Chapter 662: Tit for Tat

“This subject pays his respects to the crown prince and princess!” Zu An said in a ringing voice.

A strange atmosphere had pervaded the room. Even the crown prince and princess had their heads bowed, while the rest of the attendants present remained silent out of fear.

The loud voice that suddenly rang out immediately became the focal point of everyone’s attention.

Little Xu and Little He, who were standing beside the crown prince, stared at him in a daze. This guy is really brave. He dares to speak up even at this sort of time.

The imperial guards Piao Duandiao and Jiao Sigun, who shared a close relationship with Zu An, winked as hard as they could from where they stood a distance away, trying to warn him not to say the wrong thing.

Zu An felt a warmth rising up within him. These two were truly worth befriending. However, he had his own plans. He walked over to the crown prince and princess. “Hm? Who else can make the crown prince and princess serve him tea so respectfully, aside from His Majesty himself? May I ask who you are?”

He’d decided to offend King Qi publicly after some careful thought. King Qi was the one who had arranged for most of those assassination attempts he’d run into on his way to the capital. Why did he have to be nice to someone who wanted him dead?

Furthermore, there was no way the two of them could ever be on friendly terms, not after all the things that had happened after his arrival at the capital.

It had been because of him that Murong Tong, of King Qi’s faction, was transferred away from the critical position of Security Officer. Now, Left Guard General Cheng Xiong was dead as well. No matter how magnanimous King Qi himself was, there was no way his subordinates would view Zu An with anything other than bitterness.

Zu An didn’t think that King Qi would be that open-minded anyway, so it was better just to offend him to his face, and bind himself more tightly to the crown princess instead.

His mission for the emperor, which was to give King Qi the fake Phoenix Nirvana Sutra, wasn’t such a pressing matter, so he wasn’t too worried about it right now.

As he spoke, he looked at King Qi, admiring the mature and graceful middle-aged man who was surely the target of many young ladies.

King Qi stared back at him, his eyes devoid of expression.

In fact, Zu An didn’t even receive any Rage points from him.

Zu An was rather surprised. Clearly, he faced a shrewd individual who had to be dealt with carefully.

The crown princess was overjoyed at the turn of events. She usually found this guy rather annoying, but he seemed much more pleasant today.

Despite her inner joy, she still pretended to reprimand him. “This is the wise and world-renowned King Qi. Zu An, how can you treat him with such disrespect?”

She deliberately emphasized the words ‘world-renowned’ and’ wise’ precisely to mock him for bullying his juniors.

The crown princess knew full well why he had shown up this day with this sort of attitude. It was the crown prince’s faction that had caused Cheng Xiong’s death. It was easy enough for her to imagine how King Qi was feeling after losing such an important general. He had to find a way to vent his frustrations, either for himself or on behalf of his subordinates.

This was why he was here, deliberately causing trouble for her and the crown prince, and she had no choice but to endure it. 

We’ve already reaped the benefits of this situation. We’ll grant you this petty victory.

Now that Zu An was here, however, she suddenly discovered that she might not have to let him have this empty victory either.

Zu An put on an alarmed look and greeted him respectfully. “I greet King Qi.” 

“So you’re Zu An?” King Qi eyed Zu An with a slightly complicated expression. For all these years, he’d always held the upper hand in his struggle against the emperor. His opponent had never been this stupid nephew or his wife, who held such a high opinion of herself. His real opponent had always been his older brother occupying the dragon throne.

It was true that the emperor had no mortal rival, but he was helpless before the inexorable march of time. Given the pathetic nature of the crown prince, the situation had already been gradually leaning in his favor.

Yet, once Zu An had appeared, he’d been completely caught off guard by the Phoenix Nirvana Sutra he carried, which apparently granted immortality. When he first learned of this, it significantly disrupted the calmness he had felt for so long. If the emperor obtained true immortality, the what was the point of this struggle?

Once this news got out, it even caused some officials who had been secretly on his side to waver. They had joined his faction not because they liked him, but because the emperor, the most powerful man in the world, was about to die, and the crown prince was a worthless fool.

Once they learned that the emperor had a chance of obtaining eternal life, though, none of them were dumb enough to tempt fate by going against the emperor.

He’d already badly burned. After this fellow’s arrival in the capital, he’d lost his grip on both the Security Officer and the Left Guard General positions, which were crucial posts. This was the first time his faction had suffered such devastating losses in many years.

Is this person my natural nemesis? He erased this thought as soon as it appeared. Someone like him would never let himself entertain such useless thoughts.

Zu An spoke in reply. “This lowly official is called Zu An. I have longed to meet with the renowned King Qi.”

King Qi’s eyelids twitched. This fella only just expressed his hatred for me, yet now he says he’s longed to meet me? Isn’t he clearly making a mockery of me?

You have successfully trolled Zhao Jing for 99 Rage points!

Zu An was disappointed by these Rage points. This man, for better or for worse, was a grandmaster, and his soul force had to be incredibly powerful. He shouldn’t only be offering such a small amount.

All jokes aside, though, he knew that someone who could go toe-to-toe with the world’s most powerful cultivator for such a long time was no pushover.

In his conversations with Yun Jianyue, she had told him that there were two-and-a-half people who scared her. The first two were the emperor and King Qi. As for someone like Zhuxie Chixin, he couldn’t even count as half. He was merely slightly more troublesome than an ant.

King Qi picked up his teacup and took a sip, then said calmly, “Lord Zu, from what you said earlier, it seems you don’t think it’s suitable for me to have the crown prince serve me tea. One’s education begins from the very basics, and a strict teacher will help the student appreciate what he learns. This is wisdom, passed down from ancient times. I fear that Lord Zu might not have heard of this before, since you grew up on the streets of Brightmoon City.”

Zu An was not upset that King Qi was mocking him for being ignorant. He smiled. “Whatever the case, the crown prince is the heir apparent to the throne, and the crown princess will become the empress. I don’t think King Qi’s behavior aligns with the behavior expected of loyal subjects.”

Many people gasped at his words. Little Xu and Little He’s faces turned deathly pale. Piao Duandiao and Jiao Sigun sighed inwardly, thinking that Zu An was done for. He actually dares to speak to King Qi in such a manner? He’s dead for sure!

Even the crown princess’ maid, Rong Mo, stiffened. She was afraid that King Qi’s anger would shift to the crown prince and princess. She was no match for this man if he attacked even if she were at her peak, let alone right now, when she was still heavily injured.

She cursed Zu An for being a worthless good-for-nothing.

You have successfully trolled Rong Mo for 233… 233… 233…

Only the crown princess felt incredibly refreshed. She was finding Zu An more and more pleasing. She never expected this man to show such loyalty. Perhaps it would be worthwhile to spend some effort to foster him.

King Qi’s eyes narrowed, but his reaction was quick as well. He said, “Along the path of learning, respect for the teacher is the most important virtue. Only when one respects their teacher will they attach importance to learning itself. Therefore, there are two situations when the ruler should not treat his subjects as mere subjects. The first is when the subject presides over a sacrifice to the heavens, and the second is when the subject assumes the role of a teacher.”[1]

Zu An thanked the heavens that he’d gone through nine years of compulsory education before he transmigrated. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have understood any of that.

Even though he was in a world of cultivation, a system of etiquette has been established across thousands of years in order to ensure the stability of the state. There was no need for a teacher to assume the humble demeanor of a subject when he was imparting the wisdom of the classics. Even as a ruler, one had to assume a respectful and serious attitude when learning, and leave aside his own status. This was the respect for a teacher that King Qi was invoking.

His meaning was clear. If a ruler abided by such norms, so should the crown prince and crown princess.

The crown princess turned her pretty eyes towards Zu An. This was why she’d endured the humiliation earlier on. She was curious as to how Zu An was going to respond.

For some reason, she felt like this fellow wasn’t going to disappoint her.

1. The original text is incredibly hard to understand on its own, like a lot of Chinese literature.

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