Chapter 618: Scammer

Zu An almost fell over in shock.

He thought that the emperor had made him stay because he wanted to grant him some rewards in private. He’d been happily awaiting the emperor to bestow on him his well-deserved rewards for saving so many people today, only for the emperor to hit him with this line.

Bro, what the hell?

His hairs were all standing on end, and he instinctively wanted to flee, but he forced himself to calm down. Even though the emperor was speaking through the mirror, killing him would be easy enough, given the emperor’s cultivation. After all, just a single appearance by him had been enough to decide matters in Brightmoon City.

Furthermore, he had just faced off against Qiu Honglei’s master, and had been able to easily defeat her despite not being in the palace at all.

If even a glorious grandmaster wasn’t a match for him, his own cultivation was worthless.

Zu An took a deep breath. He braced himself and said, “Your Majesty is not being fair. I cannot accept this!”

“I am the emperor. Do I need you to approve of what I wish to be done?” replied the emperor haughtily.

Zu An was momentarily speechless.

Do you think you’re fucking Chen Beixuan or something?[1]

However, he reacted quickly. “Your Majesty wants to achieve immortality throughout the ages, in an indirect manner. I don’t believe that you want history to remember you as an unjust man, or that you are a foolish ruler who acts on a whim.”

Hmph. You can say that you don’t care about what I think, or what everyone else here thinks, but there’s no way you wouldn’t care about what the later generation thinks of you.

The emperor’s eyes narrowed. “It’s been many years since someone has spoken to me like that.”

Zu An’s tone immediately became extremely respectful. “I am not trying to offend Your Majesty. I only wish to state a few things. There was an assassination attempt in the imperial palace today. First, I saved the empress’ life in the Palace of Peace, then I rushed over to the eastern palace and saved both the crown prince and princess. Of all the contributions made by anyone today, mine must rank among the top three most worthy, even if they aren’t considered the most worthy of all. If Your Majesty does not wish to reward me, that is your prerogative, but you’ve even ordered me to cut off a limb. That caused me to blurt out several delirious things in a moment of alarm. I must ask for Your Majesty’s forgiveness.”

The emperor snorted. “You’re rather crafty, aren’t you? Whatever, I’ll give you a chance to make up for your crimes, so that you won’t go to your death without knowing why.”

“Make up for my crimes?” Zu An was confused. He cursed inwardly. Weren’t you saying just a second ago that you didn’t need my approval to do anything? Yet now you’re concerned about this stuff.

“Help me take care of two matters,” continued the emperor. “Once completed, not only will I pardon your licentious acts towards the crown princess, I will also reward you greatly. If you fail, I believe you already know the consequences.”

“What are these matters?” Zu An quickly asked. Just carrying the crown princess is considered a licentious act? Then what about what I did to the empress? I absolutely cannot let him know about that. Otherwise, I’ll be tortured to death.

The emperor was not privy to his thoughts. “The first matter is to investigate how the assassins were able to get into the palace through the layers of guards,” he said.

Zu An was surprised. “Your Majesty, why aren’t you assigning this task to the Left and Right Guard Generals?”

The emperor glared at him. “They have their own investigations, and you have yours. Is there a problem?”

Zu An shivered. “Not at all.” It sounded as though the emperor didn’t fully trust the Left and Right Generals.

The emperor continued. “Secondly, you are to find out who leaked out the information that I wasn’t in the palace. The assassins found the perfect moment to strike, and I refuse to believe that it was all just a coincidence.”

Zu An forced a smile. “Your Majesty, you know that it’s only been a few days since I arrived at the capital. I am of lowly status, and I’m not well acquainted with many people. How am I supposed to investigate such a thing? Why not let Commander Zhuxie lead a team to investigate this instead? They are much more skilled at this.”

“If I tell you to do it, then you do it. What’s with all of this nonsense?” The emperor’s face was as dark as a thunderhead. Ordinarily, his subjects would not even dare to breathe too loudly in front of him. And yet, this fellow not only talked back to him, he was even haggling with him!

Zu An laughed awkwardly. “Please, Your Majesty, I’m only trying to help you come up with the fastest and most effective way to investigate these matters.”

The emperor hesitated a moment, then decided that, since he was going to assign Zu An to this case, there were some matters that he needed to be informed about. As such, he said, “The reason I picked you for this is precisely because you haven’t been here for long. With fewer ties in the capital, there’s less for me to worry about.”

Zu An was surprised. “Does Your Majesty suspect Lord Zhuxie and the others?”

The emperor eyed him coldly, but did not offer an answer. Instead, he continued, “Only a handful knew that I was taking a trip out of the palace, yet this information managed to be leaked. That’s why I need you to look into it.”

Zu An was alarmed. The emperor really wasn’t in the palace! “Where did you go, Your Majesty?”

The emperor narrowed his eyes. “Don’t ask about things that you shouldn’t be asking about.”

Zu An was at a loss for words.

To save himself from the awkward silence, he changed the topic. “Your Majesty, at least let me know who knew about your departure. Was it the empress, the senior concubine, or was it someone else?”

The emperor replied lightly, “The empress and the other concubines do not know. The only ones who knew were the ones in the room with you just now, as well as several eunuchs who help me through my daily activities. I’ll leave it to you to investigate.”

The pieces finally fell into place for Zu An.

No wonder he called me here to take part in the meeting. He wanted me to know who the suspects were.

Although Zhuxie Chixin is his trusted aide, he still isn’t free of suspicion… The paranoia of the one who rules is truly terrifying.

Stranger than that, though, was that not even his wives knew about his whereabouts, despite confiding in several others. Tsk tsk, his concubines really are pitiful. Rumor has it that the emperor hasn’t even visited his concubines in many years due to his decreasing lifespan…

What a pity. All this excellent farmland is being neglected! These concubines probably find it pointless to vie for his affections.

“You hold the golden token of the Embroidered Envoy, which should be enough for you to do whatever you need to do. There’s no need to fret over your official rank. However, let me remind you that you absolutely must not expose your true identity during your search, because it will affect your other mission concerning King Qi. You know the consequences if that happens.”

“Understood!” Zu An did not need the emperor to point this out to him. It was much more interesting to play around with multiple identities. It wasn’t fun at all if he laid all his cards on the table.

“You may leave.” The emperor closed his eyes.

Zu An let out the breath he had been holding. He left the study and closed the door.

The eunuch escorted him out with a smile. “Lord Eleven truly has boundless prospects! Rarely does His Majesty ever meet with an embroidered envoy alone, Zhuxie Chixin aside.”

This news stunned Zu An. It seemed he had to find a chance to have a talk with Zhuxie Chixin, to mend fences and the like. It would be terrible if that man turned against him.

After all, Zhuxie Chixin had one foot through the door to the rank of grandmaster, and he wielded tremendous authority as well. Having someone like that as an antagonist would be truly awful.

“How do I address you?” Zu An asked the eunuch. The emperor mentioned that some eunuchs attended him on his daily activities. This was probably one of them. Was this guy currying favor with him out of guilt?

“This humble one’s surname is Wen,” The eunuch said with a smile. He wore a warm and affable expression on his chubby face.

“I am still a newcomer here, Eunuch Wen. It would be good if you look out for me in the future.” Zu An’s tone was polite, but he had something totally different in mind. Why are all eunuchs usually so fat? I’ve heard that pig farmers always said that castrated pigs grew the fattest. Is the same principle at work here…?

“You’re too kind, My Lord.” Eunuch Wen was all smiles. This new golden-token envoy was rather insightful and interesting, not like the others who were all dark and gloomy, looking around as if everyone owed them money.

The two of them chatted for a while, and separated amicably.

After walking for a while, Zu An suddenly smacked his head with a free hand. “Ah! I was scammed!”

It had suddenly dawned on him that the emperor had never intended to blame him for anything. He had deliberately scared him so that he would focus on this new task, while feeling grateful for the opportunity.

Dammit! Not only did I not get anything for saving your damned wife and children, but you’re pulling this sort of stunt on me as well. Are all emperors scammers?

He was boiling with rage inside, but he had to keep this thought bottled up inside. He didn’t dare blurt any of it out loud.

Lost in his own thoughts, he wandered past a rock garden, when a hand suddenly reached out and pulled him in.

1. This is a character from another novel.

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