There was a black mist shrouding the ends of the river. The water flowing out from the mist was barely a trickle, seemingly about to break at any moment.
Qianye flew toward the source and saw several faint runes floating in the waters. Those were the insignia of the second-generation primogenitors. Some were still shining, while others had gone dim.
Qianye was filled with a strange feeling each time he saw an emblem. Those weren’t just the emblems of each clan, but they also contained a method of energy manipulation, a pathway of advancement.
The seals sat at varying distances from the source and were also of different sizes. Perhaps this difference was the source of the power gap between the second-generation primogenitors.
He also realized that the distance between them wasn’t constant. Some of them were growing farther away in the river-flow, while some were growing closer. There might just be a change in their ranking given enough time.
Qianye suddenly realized the ultimate question—was the legendary first drop of blood located at the source of the river? What did it look like?
Would he get the answers if he could fly to the very end and pass through the mist?
Growing more and more excited, Qianye sped up and flew toward the black mist. It was at this moment that he was shocked by a sense of grave danger!
He looked up to see the black mist surging, and out leaped a fierce beast. This creature looked strangely awkward—it was ugly and twisted without a single symmetrical part on its body. It almost seemed to have stemmed from the evil source of the primal chaos, destined to disgust all beholders.
It charged at Qianye the moment it appeared. Qianye was shocked because he had nothing at the moment, not even a body. How could he be a match? He evaded with all his might, but his speed was vastly inferior to the creature. Soon, the beast caught up to him and swallowed him into its gaping maws.
Qianye’s consciousness once again entered the darkness.
Imperial Capital, the Divination Pavilion.
A group of divination experts was walking out in a single line. Each and every one of them looked solemn and exhausted. There were cars waiting to pick them up.
After most of the people had dispersed, a lady with long hair and wide-sleeved robes emerged from the building. She wasn’t wearing a single piece of decorative jewelry, but her beautiful countenance was unparalleled. She was Empress Li.
An inner attendant arrived and bowed to her. “Your Majesty, His Majesty is waiting for you at the Misty Grass Garden.”
Somewhat surprised, Empress Li picked up a cloak and drew the hood over her head. “Very well,” she said as she boarded the car.
The “Misty Grass Garden” was called a garden, but it was actually one of the smaller palace halls in the palace. The Radiant Emperor used to live here when he was just one of the many princes.
Naturally, no one was allowed to live here after his ascension, and it had always been well-maintained. The Emperor would sometimes visit, but he forbade concubines and princes from setting foot inside.
Empress Li had never entered the place before, but she knew that there was a room there that had been precisely maintained for many years. It was in the exact same state as when the previous Empress was still alive. The passing of the previous Empress was a great taboo, hence no one dared to touch upon this topic. Even the most tactless Concubine Zhao could only pretend to be ignorant of this special location.
“Misty Grass Garden” was a rather cramped place. The entrance to the main hall stood right in front after passing through the gate and divider wall. There were no scenic decorations in the yard as every inch of soil was covered in lush Mist Grass that they almost seemed like wild grass.
The vegetation had been left alone on purpose and without so much as a trim. They were allowed to rely on their own power to take root and grow in the soil. The small white flowers at the top swayed in the wind, much like the lustrous stars in the night sky.
The entire Misty Grass Garden was quiet; even the inner attendant had stayed behind at the door.
Empress Li entered alone. As someone hailing from an old aristocratic family, she might not have had her own courtyard before, but she had also never lived in such a small building.
The Radiant Emperor was in the left side-hall, which was a study. There was an embroidery canopy under the window, with numerous needles and threads lying around. It was as though the lady of the house would enter any moment.
Empress Li found the embroidery station rather novel. As someone who had developed great talent since a young age, the arts she had learned were no different from a man’s. The feminine arts were never in her curriculum.
Half of this room was the lord’s study, while the other half was the lady’s embroidery room. The Empress couldn’t help but feel a bit absent-minded. This was probably what it was like for a commoner family.
The Radiant Emperor was standing before a certain painting. This ink painting and the words on it conveyed the joys of a new marriage, a work that couldn’t be considered a masterpiece by any measure.
Empress Li walked over and couldn’t help but feel a bit emotional when she saw the familiar style. Wasn’t this the work of the Imperial Teacher?
The Radiant Emperor said, “Marshal Lin came from a humble family. He joined the military academy at a young age, so his literary attainments are fairly mediocre.” At the mention of this, he laughed. “I remember when he was just the prince’s teacher, the first thing he said was that he was no match for Monarch Zhang in calligraphy.”
Empress Li revealed a faint smile on the surface but was distracted inside. She had never heard the Radiant Emperor mention Lin Xitang’s personal matters; something felt different today.
The Emperor turned around and said, “Thanks for putting in the effort. Is everything done over at the Divination Pavilion?”
Empress Li snapped back to reality and bowed formally, saying, “The sacrificial ceremony is over. However, I’m sorry to tell you that we didn’t gain anything apart from stirring up the threads of fate and confusing the other side. We still don’t know what the dark races are after in the new world.”
The Radiant Emperor nodded. “The Demon King is there in person, and it’s already a difficult endeavor to keep things from him. The younger generation’s battle has ended, it’s our turn now.”
Empress Li frowned. “Since Song Zining rose to power, the prophets of the Evernight side have been avoiding a direct confrontation. I was able to sense it even more clearly.”
She continued after a pause, “I have a feeling that the Evernight faction has kept their fate well camouflaged, much more so than any other point in time. In truth, the council has many other famous prophets. Judging from their lifespans, there should be more of them than the ones they have on the table.
The Radiant Emperor nodded. “That’s not strange, it’s an advantage afforded to them by their long lifespans.”
He sighed deeply, saying, “Back when the holy war was put on hold, Marshal Lin judged that the dark races would undergo a great internal change. It’s not strange for dormant dark race members to awaken.”
Empress Li seemed surprised. “Isn’t it because of the new world’s arrival?”
The Radiant Emperor said, “That’s not the only reason.”
Empress Li said after a momentary daze, “As expected, I’m too inferior compared to Marshal Lin. I still can’t see that.”
The Radiant Emperor said, “That wasn’t divination. He was still in the divination pavilion back then.”
Empress Li listened quietly. She had heard bits and pieces about that incident, but she didn’t dare touch on the topic since it would annoy the Emperor. Now that he had mentioned the case on his own, it was likely that he had more to say.
The Emperor walked over to the embroidery station and touched the half-completed embroidery. “I hated my father’s attitude toward the princes. He simply watched as they killed one another. I wasn’t a target during the peripheral courts’ rebellion, but who would bother to discern the target during a massacre? It was Marshal Lin who had taken me into hiding during the craziest days.”
Empress Li was shaken. She didn’t know whether she had enough composure to keep herself calm, but the Emperor didn’t turn to look at her, either.
“Later on, when my father chose me as his inheritor, some smart people told me that Marshal Lin had saved me deliberately because he had foreseen the events with his divination powers.” The Radiant Emperor laughed. “There was actually a divination expert among them.”
Empress Li naturally understood that such words were laughable. Divination wasn’t an omnipotent power; how could it see everything in detail?
There were instances where the diviner would make mistakes after barely touching on the mysteries of fate and missing the bigger picture. Why else would the divination war happen back then? Lin Xitang had to accumulate correct results for many years in order to shut up all the other divination sects.
Besides, the mysteries of heaven were never constant—just like the threads of the dark races’ fate. The future was only a possibility, and the present was only one of the countless possibilities. In the end, every living being wished to pry into the workings of fate, but why? Did they want to accept their fate? Or did they want to defy the heavens and change their destiny?
After changing fate, was the future that they had seen really still the future?
“What happened that night, I know all too clearly. I don’t need anyone to tell me the truth. They were all wrong to think that my father the Emperor had let me into the minor study in order to cultivate me. In truth, he had forgotten about me, and the concubine in charge of the princes had also neglected to assign me a teacher.”
“Even after the rebellion, my father hadn’t settled on me as the successor, my talents were never enough to satisfy him. Because of my weak maternal family, I could hardly go against the other bigshots of the clan and would suffer all sorts of trouble when he was not around.” The Radiant Emperor stood up. “I sought this supreme seat on my own because I saw Lord Riverglance force Marshal Lin to kneel and apologize.”
Empress Li felt her hair stand on end.
The Radiant Emperor turned around at this point. His expression was amicable, and there was no great change in his countenance. He looked as though he was just telling a story instead of the palace’s secrets—things he had experienced in person.
He focused on Empress Li, saying, “Only when I took that position in the Lingyun Hall did I understand why my father had allowed the bloody incident to play out. Sentiments and profits never come together. Benefits can be measured, but are there shallow sentiments and deep sentiments?”
“To Wuyue, to you, and to all my other concubines and princes, I was never a good husband and father. Everything I hated about my father, I did the same as well. Fortunately, no one else after Wuyue really discussed feelings with me.”
Every noble lady had a family supporting her, and every concubine position came with a contract. The Radiant Emperor’s maternal family was of humble origins, so as a prince, he never had any women around him.
Empress Li heaved a sigh, knowing that the words to follow were the focus of today’s conversation.
“I know you have your aspirations. With your current attainments, you can easily become the head of the Divination Pavilion. I will inform the heavenly monarchs and grant you this position.”
“But no prince or princess under your name shall have the right to succeed the throne. Especially if you want the Li family to be promoted to major clan status in this generation, there shall be no Emperor surnamed Li. From today onward, as long as the Li surname remains head of the Divination Pavilion, we will not accept anyone else surnamed Li into the Imperial harem.”
Empress Li was extremely calm. She bowed deeply, saying, “Yes, Your Majesty, your subject obeys.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
TL: Legion ED: Moxie