Give Me a Bone
Inside the emperor’s study at the imperial palace.
The current emperor was meeting someone.
Foreign ministers from another state are not usually permitted entry into the emperor’s study. Normally, only those in the palace whom are inner servants or those conferred titles of royalty would be allowed entry there. The person the emperor was currently seeing didn’t fit in either category.
The emperor took a sip from a cup of tea and without looking up said to that person: “Captain Song, sit.”
Song Ou anxiously and fearfully replied as if he had a foreboding feeling: “A retainer cannot sit before the emperor. I am fine with standing.”
The emperor responded with: “…Hmm.”
The emperor would normally never askto see Song Ou. It’s not that he questions his abilities or personality, but because he’s treated Shen Yiren like his own daughter since her parents passed away while Song Ou was her future husband.
He disliked his son-in-law more and more. Moreover, their marriage was proposed by Shen Yiren without consulting him first. The emperor was unhappy with Shen Yiren’s future husband which she got engaged to for benefits to begin with.
Further, the Song family was originally a family in the martial world, yet after their engagement, they gained a fair amount of power in the imperial court. Therefore, the emperor had his reservations towards Song Ou from the start.
“Alright, just stand then.”
While Song Ou comes from a family in the martial world, he had a scholar’s demeanour and was polite so the emperor didn’t feel he was mistreating him. Song Ou respectfully replied: “Understood.”
The emperor gave him a look of askance. He never had a chance to get a good look at him from afar in the courtroom and only finally got to take a good look at him today. Song Ou looked cultured, clean and tidy, had thick eyebrows, big eyes and carried the aura of a scholar. He had a good appearance. He’s not an outstanding scholar or martial artist, but couldn’t be so bad since he was the captain of Liu Shan Men. At least the Song family hasn’t disgraced the Shen family.
The emperor scanned him a few more times before easing up and slowly asking: “Captain Song, have you and Shen Yiren been getting along well recently?”
“Thanks to your majestic blessings, Shen Yiren and I have been getting along very well.”
“Oh, is that so?” The emperor changed his sitting position, and again slowly said: “I heard that you two never appear together. You’re future husband and wife. It’s not good to always be like that, right? Captain Song, Yiren is the descendent of my late friend. I love her like my own daughter, so don’t you act dumb with me.”
A quick flash of anger appeared in the emperor’s eyes that scared Song Ou when he caught it: “Yiren and I have been busy with preparations for the imperial martial arts tournament, so we have not had any time for our own affairs. Umm… Uhh… In short, it is because I lack competence that I have delayed and neglected our relationship. Please pass down punishment upon me.”
The emperor finally revealed a smile, waved his hand and said: “Nah! What wrongs have you done? It’s my good fortune to have you busy yourself with work. In fact, I am at fault too as her uncle. I just wanted to ask because I kept hearing gossip. I’m getting on with age so I don’t have the energy to concern myself with the affairs of you young people. Hahaha.”
Song Ou followed along and laughed. He suddenly recalled what his father told him when he accepted Shen Yiren’s proposal.
“Son, don’t go thinking that Nanjing’s Shen family has fallen and all that’s left behind is an orphan. How does the current emperor treat her? The Shen family has the backing of the emperor. Our Song family is large, possesses status and power, so no one in the martial world of Jiangnan dares question us. I have been conferred the title of Lord Protector and have infinite wealth, but so what? Our Song family’s territory is only two days away from the capital. If something happens in the capital we can react right away. How many in our family can join Liu Shan’s Elites Rankings? The emperor treats us with suspicion!
The emperor is currently in his prime and is suspicious of all of us ministers, so I’m basically walking on ice. The emperor hasn’t found fault with me, but with our Song family’s power and influence, we’re like a trouble-magnet. It’s tough to avoid others in the court eyeing us. If somebody in the imperial court happens to trick the emperor and frame us, would our Song family be able to defend ourselves if we didn’t have somebody in the imperial court?
The Shen family and the royal family have a good relationship. Shen Yiren’s father is the late brother by oath of the emperor, so her words hold a lot more weight than our Song family. Do you now understand why we must accept her proposal?
Further, look at Shen Yiren who’s only fifteen. Not only does she possess the beauty of a deity, she also came alone to make the proposal. How bold is that? She could be a great help to you.
Don’t misunderstand that she’s borrowing our family backing to revive Liu Shan Men. Don’t you think we need to rely on her to gain footing as warriors of the imperial court?
Go to the capital, and remember, be patient and tolerant. Be patient and tolerate it even if people give you the cold shoulder! Tolerance is invaluable!
Shen Yiren will become your wife. After you get married and have kids, your child will be surnamed Song. How much longer will the Shen family last? We will eventually control Liu Shan Men. So in the end, is it really important whether she’s helping us or we’re helping her? Remember son, tolerance is invaluable!”
Song Ou repeatedly repeated his father’s words to himself.
Patience and tolerance! I must tolerate it!
If it were not for what his father told him, he would’ve had no means of tolerating the emperor’s threatening tone which was clearly intended to protect Shen Yiren.
Shen Yiren got engaged for the sake of Liu Shan Men. He of course accepted Shen Yiren for the sake of his family. It’s not that he doesn’t have any feelings for Shen Yiren. It’s just that the people around were pushing him into an awkward position.
Shen Yiren’s standing at Liu Shan Men is truthfully far too established. Most of the ministers left behind from the Shenfamily are loyal to her. And since she was once Yan Shisan’s deputy, all the skilled warriors trained by Yan Shisan also take orders from her.
Song Ou truthfully hasn’t done anything significant other than being the shield when trouble comes knocking at Liu Shan Men’s doors. And when he’s called into the palace to see the emperor, all he got was a warning to not mistreat Shen Yiren.
Song Ou was bitter. His fiancée was far too good, making it difficult for him to fulfil the shoes of the captain role.
The emperor noticed that he was slightly down-hearted and could therefore tell Song Ou understood his intentions so he said no more, so he brought up the main topic: “Let’s leave that aside for now. The imperial martial arts tournament is tomorrow. Do you know what I’ve asked to see you for?”
Song Ou replied: “I do not. Could you please enlighten me, your majesty.”
“You do know about the killer killing several people recently, right? The people they killed were all warriors of the imperial court.”
“I have heard about it. Did you want me to investigate the case, and arrest the culprit, your majesty?”
“That’s right.” The emperor nodded and continued: “But that’s not all.”
The emperor sat up straight and continued: “The killer is cunning and tough to arrest, that I’m aware of. Asking Liu Shan Men to solve the case within a time limit is making things difficult for you all, so I’m asking my entourage, the Qilin Guards and Liu Shan Men to investigate the case together. Whoever solves the case first will be credited handsomely. However, that’s not what’s most important. Tomorrow is the imperial martial arts tournament. Do you understand what I’m getting at?”
“Yes.” Song Ou pondered over what he emperor said and then continued: “The warriors will have to enter the palace for the imperial martial arts tournament, and so you are worried about the safety of the royal family?”
“Correct!” The emperor nodded to emphasise his response and continued: “Forget the reason the killers committed the murders before the imperial martial arts tournament for now. The doors to the imperial palace will be open the next few days for the imperial martial arts tournament, which makes it a coveted opportunity for the culprits, even though there are warriors present. If the culprits can easily disguise themselves and sneak into the palace, how can I guarantee the safety of those in the palace? Skilled warriors from my entourage are always by my side, so I’m not worried. The Qilin Guards have lost a few men over the last few days, so I can’t really ask them to provide manpower assistance. Therefore, the responsibility of guarding the East and West gates of the imperial palace will ride on the shoulders of Liu Shan Men.”