The battle at the Royal Capital didn’t last long. The roaming airships in the sky were the best form of threat. In order to prevent an accident like in Expansive, the battlecruiser captain checked all the cannon turrets that could pose a threat and destroyed all of them.
The anti-air fire at the capital looked fiercer than Expansive, but there was not much difference in actual effectiveness.
Most ordinary people, be they civilians or soldiers, had seen or heard too much about power struggles. This was a fight for the upper-class people, a conflict between kings, dukes, and nobles. No matter who won or lost, it had very little to do with them—they would have to pay the same taxes and shoulder the same responsibilities. It didn’t affect their path to fortune, either.
After every conflict, the new king would make a show of amnesty, reducing taxes and clearing corrupt officers. Before long, however, things would go back to the way it was before. The taxes might even increase since they would have to find a way to recoup the discounted taxes from before.
People were pretty calm about this so-called fight for the throne. Nan Ruohuai only encountered some resistance when he stormed the palace. Those were the Second Prince’s trusted aides who knew very well that they would find no good outcome even if they surrendered. The other prince manors possessed a certain degree of power—some of them offered a bit of resistance, but the others realized the futility of it and simply surrendered.
The entire occupation process went smoothly. By dusk, the sounds of guns and cannons had died down quite a bit. Squad after squad of Royal Guards moved out from the palace and positioned themselves throughout the city to enforce a curfew. At the same time, they went on a large-scale manhunt for the ruffians who had committed arson and robbery during the chaos, restoring order to the capital.
From all of this, it was quite evident that Nan Ruohuai was fairly capable.
At this point, Nan Ruohuai’s attendant found Qianye and invited him to the palace for a meeting. Song Lun, who was standing nearby, sneered. “Already adopting the airs of a king, huh?”
The attendant replied, “The King of Zheng hasn’t been crowned, but he’s nonetheless the supreme ruler of the nation. How can he leave the palace so easily? Who’ll take responsibility if something happens to him amidst the chaos?”
Song Lun was just about to explode in anger when Qianye stopped him. “Let’s go and see.”
Since Qianye had already spoken, there wasn’t much Song Lun could say. He simply boarded the vehicle angrily. He was the one who had picked Nan Ruohuai, so he felt responsible should something go wrong.
Qianye’s motorcade was only made up of eight vehicles, but all of them were full to the brim with mercenaries and generals. After Nan Ruohuai’s Royal Guard moved out, Qianye intentionally recalled his forces to avoid any potential conflict.
The mercenaries of the neutral lands were fierce and ruthless, not the type to hold back in a fight. Qianye felt that the Royal Guard would lose too much face if they suffered heavy casualties.
Nothing out of the ordinary happened as they entered the palace. The Royal Guards were everywhere, and the palace attendants were busy cleaning up traces of battle. The entire eastern gate had collapsed, which went to show how fierce the fight was back then.
The servants were fairly busy since the large pile of rubble wasn’t easy to clear. Most of the officers from the Royal Guard had witnessed Qianye killing Liu Zhongyuan. Who would dare provoke him?
Qianye’s car drove into the middle-gate before coming to a stop at a wide, open plaza. On the other end of the square, atop a flight of thirty-three steps, was the symbol of Zheng’s monarchy: the court hall.
The plaza before the hall was rather impressive, but of course, it couldn’t compare to the one in the Great Qin’s Imperial Palace. It was only a quarter of the size. To Zheng, however, it was big enough already. Such spaces were usually reserved for national sacrificial ceremonies and where all the nobles, as well as civil and military officers, would line up. How could Zheng possess a quarter of the Empire’s strength?
The sign on the court hall read, “Heaven’s Harmony.” The pen strokes were straight, sharp, and comparable to an unsheathed blade. The style was grand, but its layout was a bit too small. Throughout the Great Qin Empire, its typography focused on neutrality and peace. Only in the military and on the front lines did they pay attention to sharpness. It was vastly different from the style of Zheng where even the center of government looked like it was in a state of hostility.
Qianye stood for a while at the middle gate, glancing at the great hall and then at the plaza. At this point, a person came running over at top speed—it was Nan Ruohuai.
He ran all the way until he was in front of Qianye, huffing and puffing like a bull. “These men are all blind! They didn’t report earlier about your arrival, Uncle!”
Nan Ruohuai stole a glance at Qianye’s expression. Seeing that spurious smile and those deep, abyssal eyes, he couldn’t help but tremble. His mind went blank and he forgot whatever it was that he had wanted to say. His knees suddenly gave way and he fell kneeling to the ground with a plop.
The palace attendants turned pale with fright. Some of them screamed in alarm and wanted to charge over to support him. They had just run past the surrounding mercenaries when a cold gleam flickered and heads started to fly.
These people failed to express their loyalty and lost their lives instead. Blood gushed out of their severed necks, showering down like rain. Some droplets fell onto Nan Ruohuai’s body and face, causing him to tremble all over. He raised a hand, wanting to wipe away the blood on his face, but he lowered it again half-way and prostrated himself before Qianye.
Qianye said coldly, “It’s good that you know fear.”
Nan Ruohuai said in a trembling voice, “I got dizzy and confused once I entered the palace. With all these people egging me on… I seem to have forgotten who I was.”
Qianye nodded. “If I can raise you to this position, I can raise anyone else with even greater ease. As for why I chose you and not your other brothers, you better think for yourself.”
“Yes, I will think about it.”
“Rise.” Qianye brought Nan Ruohuai to his feet with a raise of his right hand, leaving him trembling and pale.
Qianye paid him no heed and simply led the group into the palace hall.
Nan Ruohuai followed from behind. When he walked through the door, a palace attendant asked, “Your Majesty, are you unwell anywhere?” This person was indoor just now and hadn’t seen the commotion outside.
“I’m fine,” Nan Ruohuai replied, but no one would believe that judging from how pale he was.
Nan Ruohuai was thinking about that moment when he killed the Second Prince. Back then, the soldiers nearby were all struggling under the weight of Qianye’s domain, and only he was unaffected. It wasn’t that his strength was outstanding, but rather there was a layer of origin power around him canceling out the power of the domain. Needless to say, this layer of energy was Qianye’s doing.
If Qianye could use origin power to protect him, he could just as easily kill him with it. It wouldn’t be any more difficult for him than killing a chicken.
Back then, Nan Ruohuai didn’t realize this detail as he was fully immersed in the excitement of the throne-fight. Only after facing Qianye’s terrifying presence did he recall what had happened on the city wall.
Qianye came to a stop inside the Hall of Heaven’s Harmony, observing the furnishings and arrangements. Although he had never been to the capital or the Imperial Palace, he had seen the layout of the Zhao and Song clans. The Zhao clan’s main building was majestic and imposing, filled with an air of murderous nobility. The Song’s was secluded, luxurious, and unintentionally exuding great extravagance. Needless to say, the Bai and Zhang clans would have their unique characteristics as well.
No need to bring the Imperial Palace into the comparison, just the main buildings of the four major clans was enough to suppress the Zheng Royal Palace. The decor inside the building screamed of an excessive attempt at displaying luxury, yet it ended up giving off a feeling of unsophisticated extravagance. It simply wasn’t on the same level. The clans were truly extravagant when it came to decorative materials, while this palace was filled with crude items. That actually did make sense because Zheng could neither afford nor obtain the truly good items.
A sudden thought popped up in his mind. Were those dazzling gold ornaments the king’s taste or was he trying to divert attention away from the ordinary materials?
Having seen the main hall, Qianye formed a direct impression of Zheng. He felt curious as he recalled Liu Zhongyuan’s comment on the Empire being large but not necessarily powerful. Where was he getting that confidence from? Maybe that was all he could see after living in this remote place for so long.
Nan Ruohuai stood nearby, waiting for Qianye to finish exploring. He then said respectfully, “I hope you can go further in, there’s someone at the back who wants to see you.”
Qianye glanced at the passage behind the palace hall. From the layout of the palace, that was likely where the royal harem was housed. He nodded and started walking in that direction. Several shocked attendants wanted to stop him but didn’t dare.
Nan Ruohuai glared at them, roaring, “This is my uncle! Who gave you the gall to try and stop him?”
An old attendant said, “Your Majesty, the rear palace isn’t an ordinary place. If the royal uncle wishes to enter… this lowly one of course wouldn’t dare stop him. But those people…”
Qianye understood what was being implied. He turned to Song Hui, Song Lun, and the generals, saying, “Wait for me here.”
Song Hui said, “How come you’re going in alone?”
“Be careful,” Song Hui reminded.
Qianye found it somewhat funny. “What, is there anyone who can harm me in this place?”
“That’s hard to say!” Song Hui glared at him.
Qianye shook his head and only considered it a young girl’s willfulness. He paid her no more heed as he followed Nan Ruohuai to the rear.
Song Hui snorted, puffing her cheeks as she did so. A curious Song Lun asked from the side, “Do you not know how powerful Qianye is? Even the entire Royal Guard can’t do anything to him, I think. Unless they use some despicable method.”
Song Hui replied angrily, “What kind of poison would it take to poison him to death?”
Song Lun was startled, but he decided not to respond to the girl’s angry remark. The vehicle of delivery was important for poisons. It would be a joke if they tried to poison food or drink; Song Lun didn’t believe Zheng could get their hands on powerful poisons that could fell a divine champion just by touch or through the air. If he had known about Qianye’s ancient vampire constitution, he would be spared of the last bit of worry.
Seeing Qianye’s figure vanish behind the screen, Song Hui gnashed her teeth. “Hope he gets eaten up bone and all!”
Only then did Song Lun come to understand what was going on, and his expression turned odd.
Zheng’s rear palace was similar to the Empire’s in style. There was actually a small garden with a weather-control array, filled with all kinds of flowers—red, white, yellow, and blue, all tightly packed in an unexciting manner.
Qianye understood the desire to plant as many flowers as one could after investing so much into this array. As for the Unending Palace, which was an origin array in and of itself, that was way beyond the scope of Zheng and its people.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
TL: Legion ED: Moxie