This little garden wasn’t a place for discussing official business, nor was it a necessary path to some other place. Nan Ruohuai’s expression was inevitably a bit proud—what he wanted to show was that whatever the Empire possessed, Zheng did too, albeit a bit smaller.
Qianye understood these little notions, but there was no need to point it out. Small countries like Zheng would have no way to survive if they didn’t find a way to inflate their confidence.
This prince, the new king from today onward, had never left Zheng before. The furthest he had been away from the country was when Song Lun had kidnapped him. His limited experience was a mark of his origins.
Many people would be affected by their birth or experiences after adulthood, leaving little room for molding after the inherent mindset had been formed. It wasn’t something that could be turned around by resources or teachers. In short, Nan Ruohuai’s performance during this time wasn’t so bad, with all things considered.
Passing through the garden, they arrived at a secluded courtyard. Mountain, stream, a small pavilion—everything made for a proper resting place. The garden just now couldn’t fit a lot of people since it was packed with flowers and plants.
The small pavilion was shrouded by flowery decorations, exuding a thriving scene that was out of place with the time of the year. This excessive garishness was actually quite harsh on the eyes. Qianye was used to Zhao Jundu, Song Zining, and even Wei Potian—their lavishness was in harmony with daily life. This kind of overly eye-catching arrangement made him uncomfortable.
There were three people seated in the pavilion, surrounded by several attendants. There was also a group of internal attendants outside. The ostentation was sufficient, but the courtyard was simply too small for such a large group. The person who had made these arrangements clearly had no idea that more people didn’t necessarily mean more power. Space was the most valuable asset at the center of the Royal Capital; every inch of land was as valuable as gold.
Nan Ruohuai said, “Sire, those who want to see you are waiting in the pavilion.”
All three people in the pavilion were ladies. Qianye didn’t really observe them carefully when he arrived, only casting a glance when Nan Ruohuai said so.
The woman in the center was somewhat aged, but her features were graceful and her charm cut deep to the bone. She might’ve been more beautiful when she was younger, but she might not necessarily exude this kind of attractiveness back then.
The two ladies to the side were fairly beautiful, possessing features similar to the older lady and Nan Ruohuai. Having seen the Second Prince and now these ladies, Qianye understood that these people shared a close bloodline.
As expected, Nan Ruohuai introduced, “The one at the center is my Queen Mother, and the other two are my sisters. Please have a seat.”
Nodding, Qianye walked into the pavilion and sat down.
The pavilion was quite small, so it was a bit of a strain to move around when it was so tightly packed. Qianye’s knees were almost touching the girl across from him as he sat down. The young lady shifted slightly, hoping to make some space for the guest, but she accidentally kicked Qianye’s foot instead. Her face turned entirely red, and she was at a loss about what to do.
The woman glared at the girl, but even this small movement of hers was seductive and titillating. She stole a glance at Qianye in the process, the nature of which was hard to determine. Was it a peek or was it a flirtatious glance?
She scolded the girl in a whisper before saying to Qianye, “The Sire hails from the Empire and is someone who has seen the world. Naturally, he won’t be impressed by this small place. But this courtyard boasts the best scenery in the palace, and I made all the decorations myself. What do you think?”
What could Qianye say? He merely nodded and glossed over things. “Not bad.”
The woman giggled with her mouth covered, her chest shaking from the movement. “It’s great that you like it, Sire. I’m Ruohuai’s mother, granted the title of ‘Shu,’ but you… you’re my younger brother, so you can just call me by name, Shu Rong. These two are my daughters, your nieces. The elder one is Jinyi, and this ignorant one is Jinhang.”
Qianye nodded, sweeping his gaze over them in a gesture of greeting. Jinhang turned red when Qianye glanced past her, but Jinyi met his gaze bravely and even tried to push her chest out.
Qianye was thinking about something different, though. Thinking back to how Nan Ruohuai had addressed the woman as Queen Mother, it would seem that he had elevated her status after taking the crown. That was the right thing to do with his status. Despite the mother relying on the son’s status, the mother of that Supreme Ruler from Great Qin was still an Imperial concubine.
The granting of this small title gave one a peek into the subtle relationship between the monarch’s authority and the powerful aristocracy. Zheng was loyal to Qin, but in the end, the two were fundamentally different. Did Zheng consider the Empire as big but not strong because of matters related to the ruling family’s prestige?
Queen Mother Shu’s intention was clear, but Qianye had no plan to spend more time and energy on her. “Okay, we’ve already met. So, what does Queen Mother Shu want from me?”
The woman was startled, not expecting things to deviate so far from her script. She reacted quickly enough, however, and said with a smile, “Sire, as my brother, this palace is just like your home. You can come and go as you please. Why not let Ruohuai take you around so that you can judge the architecture of the dynasty?”
Without waiting for Qianye to reply, Nan Ruohuai said, “I’ll of course serve uncle well!”
After some thought, Qianye said, “Very well then, let’s take a look.”
The Zheng Royal Palace was a bit small, but it was somewhat worth taking a look.
Nan Ruohuai paid no heed to the attendants’ shocked expressions. Seeing that they were frozen stiff, his expression darkened. “Are you all deaf and blind? I’m taking my uncle around the palace, did you not hear?”
The attendant ladies exchanged glances. Suddenly, an old attendant fell to her knees, crying, “Your Majesty! You must not! The royal harem isn’t a place for outsiders! Your name shall be stained throughout history if news of this gets out! You must not! Absolutely not!”
Nan Ruohuai roared with a fierce expression, “A stain throughout history? Why would something from inside the palace spread outside? It must be because of people like you?”
The old attendant was shocked. “Impossible, this servant is most loyal…”
Without waiting for her to finish, Nan Ruohuai said, “Men, behead this disrespectful fanatic!”
In the face of this order, the attendant ladies fell to their knees and began pleading in earnest. It would seem this old attendant was fairly influential in the palace. Someone even cried out, “If you must kill, then kill us all!”
Qianye remained silent with his eyes lowered. It was as though he had no interest in this ongoing commotion.
Nan Ruohuai glanced at Qianye, then at the kneeling palace staff. “You people play this game the first day that I ascend the throne. Do you think this king won’t kill?”
He drew his sword and slashed down, decapitating the old attendant on the spot!
The attendants were shocked out of their wits. Those kneeling on the ground went silent, and those who weren’t—the ones who had sworn loyalty to Nan Ruohuai—went pale and fell to their knees.
The king roared, “Who was it that wanted me to kill them? Stand out and I’ll fulfill your wishes!”
Of course, no one replied, but Nan Ruohuai wasn’t about to stop here. He pointed his blade at a young attendant. “I remember it was you who said that, do you think you’ll be fine if you keep quiet?”
The blade rose and fell, but all of a sudden, a hand appeared mid-slash. It plucked the sword from Nan Ruohuai’s hands and, with a spin, pressed it against his neck.
Stunned, the new king slowly turned around to find an unassuming middle-aged attendant. He had no impression of this person. Nan Ruohuai was only one step away from the champion realm, so this person had to be far more powerful in order to snatch the sword from him. How could such a person be unknown?
Since this person was an attendant, Nan Ruohuai hardened his voice and roared, “Who the hell are you? Are you rebelling?”
The attendant replied, “Your Majesty, you should stop before going too far. Such bloodthirst is not appropriate.”
Nan Ruohuai’s eyes turned cold. “Zheng is my kingdom, must I ask you for permission when I want to kill someone?”
The internal attendant said with a frown, “Your Majesty, the way you obtained the throne is the way you will lose it. At least, the other princes won’t bring an outsider into the palace and cause humiliation to the country! Since you have veered so far from our traditions, I should simply kill you and remove a calamity for the world! For the son of a songstress, being king for one day is already fortunate enough. Time to go!”
With that, he moved to behead Nan Ruohuai in a single slash! The surroundings fell into chaos, mixed with the screams of ladies.
But everyone’s eyes blurred for a split second as someone appeared in their midst. It was as though the sword was stabbing into a mountain, not moving no matter how much force was applied. The attendant was shocked to find Qianye standing at his side, grabbing onto the sword with one hand. Nan Ruohuai’s sword was a grade seven weapon that had been handed down from king to king. However, Qianye was simply grabbing onto it without any special arts. The blade couldn’t move at all, nor could it cut through his palm.
Qianye said indifferently, “You’re quite loyal, but that’s also the unfortunate reason why I can’t keep you alive. Follow your master in peace.”
The attendant’s expression shifted drastically. “How did you know?”
In no mood to reply, Qianye casually slapped down on the man’s head. The attendant’s expression was solemn—he bent his knees into a horse stance and, with a loud roar, swung his elbows up to block the palm. However, he was extremely shocked the moment he touched Qianye’s palm.
Qianye’s palm fell normally as though there was no obstruction, and went all the way down to waist-height before retracting.
With a loud bang, the attendant was half-buried into the ground, still in his upward defensive stance. The spirit in his eyes scattered as he leaned to the side with a whimper, and never moved again.
No one in the palace dared look up. Most of these people were simply terrified of being slaughtered by the new king; only a few understood that Qianye had slapped that attendant to death with great ease. This attendant was the Royal Tutor’s follower and boasted a rank-sixteen cultivation, the most powerful expert in the palace apart from the king and the Royal Tutor. He was often praised for his potential for breaking through to the divine champion realm.
Nan Ruohuai had been away from the palace for too long. The King of Zheng treated him like an invisible prince, only allowing him to enter the palace and meet his mother at new year’s. That was why he didn’t recognize this person, but he could already venture a guess. Who would’ve thought he would be hiding among the attendants all this time and only made an appearance just now.
Qianye paid no heed to what these people were thinking. He still couldn’t feel any satisfaction even after slapping a high-ranking expert to death. “Such a commotion, I think we should stop touring the rear palace.”
After figuring out who this person was, Nan Ruohuai understood that he had just tiptoed over the line of life and death. His ashen face hadn’t relaxed yet, and even his voice was a bit distorted. “Of course we tour! Why shouldn’t we? This king wishes to bring my uncle around the rear palace. Not to mention today, it’s fine tomorrow as well. I’ll kill whoever dares to utter half a complaint about it! If I can’t handle a group of trash like you, how will I rule the nation?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
TL: Legion ED: Moxie