Chapter 626: Rejection

The imperial hospital came into view. Zu An hadn’t expected himself to be back so soon.

As he entered, he subconsciously looked into the room where Shi Kun had been, and saw that it was empty. His remains had probably been returned to the Shi clan.

I wonder if they managed to piece his junk back together after it exploded. If not, he won’t be able to be buried whole. Zu An’s thoughts were without malice.

From time to time, the sounds of groaning reached his ears, coming from soldiers who were covered in blood. Hospital staff were busy applying medicine and bandaging their injuries.

Zu An sighed. Both the Devil Sect and imperial palace had suffered severe casualties in this recent attack.

Of course, there was a right time to show sympathy. If the people he cared about really were in danger, he would never show mercy.

Suddenly, he heard a bunch of voices. A group of people were surrounding a single individual. “When the assassins charged into the eastern palace, they killed anyone in sight! Those fellas were all powerful experts, so the eastern palace lost half their number almost instantly.

“We withdrew into the palace, thinking to borrow the eastern palace’s defense formation to hold them off, but the enemy was already prepared for that! They had some kind of artifact that disrupted the palace’s formation, and the one in the lead smashed the formation to pieces with a single strike.”

Zu An turned to look at them. The one in the middle had dark circles around his eyes, just like the administrative masters of his past world.

He nodded in understanding. The place he lived in had a defensive formation, so why wouldn’t the eastern palace have one? Clearly, Yun Jianyue had been prepared. If they dared to invade the eastern palace, the formation shouldn’t have posed a problem.

The other guards all gasped. “Then what did you all do?”

The guard with the dark circles smiled. “Fortunately, the crown prince’s lesser tutor rushed over in time and stopped the enemy leader. However, the rest of the assassins continued to charge at the crown prince. Seeing all those around me frozen in fear, my body moved before my mind could process what was happening. I roared and charged at the attackers, blade in hand, slaughtering all before me as I rushed from the palace entrance into the courtyard, and all the way back again. I charged forth and returned three times, leaving a trail of lifeless corpses in my wake. I didn’t even blink once throughout the ordeal..”

A tall, skinny guard next to him sneered. “That’s a long time. You didn’t blink at all?”

“Of course not! There were enemies everywhere. I couldn’t afford to be distracted.” The guard with the black circles puffed out his chest. The looks of admiration coming from his peers around him fill him with pride.

The tall, skinny guard spoke up again. “Won’t your eyes dry out if you don’t blink?”

The guard with the black circles around his eyes stopped smiling. “I’m describing how I charged in three times and killed a whole slew of assassins. Why do you care if my eyes were dry or not?”

“I’m wondering about that as well,” The tall and skinny guard said. “Did you charge in three times, or did you turn and retreat three times?”

The guard with the dark circles snorted. “Of course I charged forward and came back three times!”

“You said that the corpses of your foes were littered everywhere. How many assassins did you really kill?”

“How could I afford to keep count in such a dangerous moment?”

“I counted them. All in all, you killed three assassins and wounded four.”

The surrounding guards slowly fell silent. The story had sounded pretty badass at first, but was that really all of them?

Given how outnumbered they had been, and how many assassins had surrounded them, these achievements were already extremely impressive. Even so, they couldn’t help but snicker in ridicule. This fellow had really taken his bragging a little too far.

The guard with the dark circles around his eyes was not happy. “Jiao Sigun, are you really going to do this to me right now? How many did you kill, then?” he asked angrily.

The guard, who was as tall and skinny as a pole, seemed to have been waiting for this question. He raised his hand and said with a smug tone, “It’s nothing to brag about. I just happened to have killed one more than you.”

The guard with the black circles around his eyes stared at him, speechless.

The surrounding guards began to praise that tall, skinny guard.

The guard with the black circles around his eyes was upset that his spotlight had been stolen by his companion. “In the end, though, none of us did anything special. We should be most grateful towards Lord Eleven.”

“Who is Lord Eleven?” Those guards were confused. They had never heard of this nickname before.

Zu An, who was about to head further into the hospital to seek out the physician, couldn’t help but stop to listen. Sigh. Why are humans so vain?

The guard with the black rings around his eyes said, “Golden-token envoy, Lord Eleven, of course.”

“Nonsense, there are only ten golden-token envoys,” retorted one of the guards.

“We thought that there were only ten as well, but today we learned that there are eleven of them.” The guard with the dark circles around his eyes continued his tale. “We were heavily outnumbered, and even the crown princess had to join the fight. When the crown princess found herself in danger, Lord Eleven appeared and carried… Ahem, ahem… He raised his blade and cut down several high-level assassins.”

Even though this was idle chatter, he knew that any mention of carrying the crown princess was taboo, and did not dare speak of it publicly.

The tall and skinny companion was quick to correct him. “Strictly speaking, Lord Eleven did not kill those assassins. He merely defeated them with a single move. He didn’t kill any of them.”

“Why do you keep correcting me?!” The guard with the dark circles around his eyes said angrily. “If you keep shooting your mouth off, I won’t ever play dice with you again!”

“Oh…” The tall and skinny guard finally shut up.

The guard with the dark circles around his eyes continued, “Either way, once Lord Eleven arrived, we were under much less pressure. He protected the crown prince and princess with a sword in hand, putting fear in the hearts of all enemies with his might. Countless assassins charged at him, yet none of them could do anything to him.”

Since his own empty boasting had been exposed earlier on, he had no choice but to puff Lord Eleven up to stroke his own vanity. The sparkling eyes around him made him feel extremely satisfied.

His tall, skinny companion seemed conflicted. He was about to speak several times, but stopped himself each time. In the end, he felt compelled to step in. “Lord Eleven didn’t use a sword…”

“Shut up!” The guard with the dark circles was about to challenge him to a duel to the death when one of the other guards asked curiously, “I heard that one of the assassins was a grandmaster. Did Lord Eleven defeat even a grandmaster?”

The guard with the dark circles explained, “Lord  Eleven isn’t a grandmaster, but not even the flying sword of that grandmaster, with its full force, could hurt Lord Eleven. Everyone in the eastern palace can attest to the power held within that sword. You all can make fun of me if you want, but that sword’s aura was so terrifying, I almost browned my pants!”

“Not even a ninth rank expert can handle the full-powered attack of a grandmaster…” The surrounding guards were all in disbelief. They turned to look at the tall, skinny man.

This time, he didn’t correct his haggard companion. “Lord Eleven did indeed evade the flying sword without suffering any damage.”

The guards in the palace were all experts, and they knew what this symbolized. Their respect for this mysterious Lord Eleven grew immensely.

Zu An chose this moment to cough lightly. “Actually, I didn’t make it out unscathed,” he interjected. “I suffered considerable internal injuries from that grandmaster’s attack. Look, I’m here to acquire some medicine as well.”

He hadn’t been quite sure how he was going to procure the medicine. Fortunately, these guards had given him the perfect excuse.

The group of them turned when they heard his voice.

The guard with the dark circles and his skinny companion immediately recognized him, and were astounded. “Lord Eleven!”

The other guards examined this golden-token envoy. So this was the mysterious Lord Eleven? As expected, he was dressed in an Embroidered Envoy uniform.

Zu An noticed that the two guards were heavily bandaged and clearly in bad shape, so he quickly supported them to their feet. “What are you two doing? Please rise.”

The two guards could not hide their emotions. “If not for Lord Eleven, we brothers might not have been able to live to see today. How can we forget our gratitude towards our savior?”

Zu An couldn’t remember who they were, as the eastern palace had been too chaotic. He had saved some guards though, and he did not expect to run into two of them. “You’re too kind. What should I call you two?”

As the crown prince’s secretary as well, it was absolutely vital that he got close to these guards.

“It’s only natural that we show you every courtesy. I am Piao Duandiao.” The guard with the dark circles around his eyes said with a huge smile.

“I am Jiao Sigun.” The tall and skinny guard did his best to smile, but it came out extremely awkward.

Zu An had a strange expression. “Whoever gave you your names were geniuses.”[1]

Piao Duandiao and Jiao Sigun nodded quickly, laughing. “That’s what we thought as well.”

The guards all surrounded him, bombarding him with questions about the battle. All of them looked adoringly at Zu An.

Zu An was ecstatic. This hospital is my own personal paradise! The people here are so nice.

He did not lose sight of his objective, however. He deliberately coughed a few times and said, “I have several injuries that need to be tended to. Let me acquire some medication first.”

Piao Duandiao and Jiao Sigun immediately volunteered their assistance. “Lord Eleven, we’ll help you find the hospital’s Assistant Commissioner.”

They were imperial guards, so they would come here from time to time, making them familiar with this place.

The head of the imperial hospital was the Hospital Commissioner, but most of the hospital’s affairs were taken care of by the Left and Right Assistant Commissioners. The one who was on duty today was the Left Assistant Commissioner, Ma An.

Zu An clasped his fist. “Thank you.” 

“You’re too kind, Lord Eleven.” Piao Duandiao and Jiao Sigun were overjoyed. This Lord Eleven wasn’t as cold and aloof as the other golden-token envoys. It could only be beneficial to have a good relationship with someone like him. He could be a great patron of theirs in the future.

It did not take them too long to find the assistant commissioner, an elder with a goatee. He gave Zu An a once-over. “May I ask where you are injured, my Lord?”

“I suffered a blow from that grandmaster earlier,” said Zu An, “and I feel as if my mind has become unsteady. I feel great discomfort whenever I think about something too hard.”

“Oh my, your soul must have been wounded. Let me think. Which medicine can heal the soul…?” The assistant commissioner stroked his goatee, momentarily puzzled. He rarely encountered such injuries.

“Do you have any Five Aggregate Root?” offered Zu An.

The assistant commissioner's eyes lit up. “Indeed, that’s something that can heal the soul. The western barbarians brought two of them as offerings recently.”

Zu An was overjoyed. Yun Jianyue had offered him some advice before he came. Several herbs were too precious, and even the imperial hospital would not have them. As such, they decided upon several herbs to inquire about, since these had a higher chance of being in stock. He hadn’t expected to succeed on the first try.

The assistant commissioner’s expression quickly turned into a frown. “This item is extremely precious, though, and is only reserved for the empress or the crown prince. I’m afraid I can’t give it to you, my Lord.”

1. ’Duan’ means ‘break’, while ‘diao’ means ‘bird’. Together, Duandiao sounds similar to the word for ‘broken off’. ‘Si’ means ‘thread’, while ‘gun’ means ‘stick’ or ‘rod’.

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