Trouble in Xuan Wu Hall
“Six people dressed in black snuck into the quarters of your entourage last night in an attempt to assassinate the three warriors in there. Fortunately, we figured out their identities beforehand so we were prepared. I and two other warriors acted as substitutes for the warriors they were after. Thanks to paying my due diligence with my training, we had no losses, making it the first night we did not lose a warrior.”
Han Tieyi from the emperor’s security detail was reporting to the emperor the events and results of what unfolded last night. Upon finishing his last sentence, he bowed his head and said: “I apologise for my incompetence. I was unable to capture them and let them escape.”
“You need not be so modest, Guard Tie. You managed to figure out their plans and successfully stop them, so that is a major accomplishment. What wrong have you done?” Emperor Yuansheng narrowed his eyes. He didn’t seem excessively happy: “So based on what you said, you have identified the culprit’s identity?”
“Yes. According to investigations, the culprit is indeed the fifth ranked group, Black Wind Thirteen Wings. I have fought with them and noticed that their weapons, fighting style and assassination methods were coincidentally identical to that which has been recorded, thus confirming their identity.”
“Black Winds Thirteen Wings… Hmph! The Assassins’ Association will kill anybody for money. They’re becoming more and more arrogant. The Black Wind Thirteen Wings group has been around for a few years and built a reputation. And now they don’t even consider me worth being concerned with. I want the Assassins’ Association and its people to know the fury of an emperor is like a terrifying hurricane! Shun Tian Prefecture, where are you?”
The man that tanks the blame, Sir Bao from Shun Tian Prefecture rolled out like a gourd as if he’d just been tortured and had to crawl. With a bitter look on his face, he said: “Y-Your majesty, I, I am present.”
The emperor looked at Sir Bao who looked like he was on the verge of tears and almost cracked up. He said to himself: I’m always scaring him and now he gets anxious whenever I ask for him.
“Minister Bao, don’t look like that. I’m not asking you to go and capture them.”
“Huh? I don’t have to arrest them?” Sir Bao then livened up and continued, “Please go ahead, your majesty.”
“Today is the first round of the imperial martial arts tournament. I want you to have two-thousand men guard the venue and keep the warriors safe. The Black Wings Thirteen Wings want to shame me? Let’s see if they can succeed with thousands of men around.”
“As you command!”
Sir Bao was relieved and quickly retreated a few steps, then turned around and ran to the Shun Tian Prefecture office. He ran faster than a young man in his prime.
The emperor shook his head and smiled helplessly: “Guard Tie, you solved this case very swiftly, so I shall reward you.”
“It is my job to serve you, your majesty. Rewards are not necessary.”
Tie Hanyi then added: “I was able to find out the identity of the assassins thanks to the aid of our comrades from Liu Shan Men. I met our comrade from Liu Shan Men, Ming Feizhen yesterday at the main courtyard of the Qilin Guards. He shared details with me with his vast knowledge which allowed me to swiftly solve the case.”
“Ming Feizhen… Ming Feizhen.” The emperor felt the name was familiar but couldn’t recall where he had heard it before. After thinking for a moment, the face of a guy with a face swollen like a pig-head appeared in his mind and he almost couldn’t laugh.
“I see. Ming Feizhen, did you say?” The emperor then continued: “The punk is clever, but he’s lazy. How did he end up helping you solve the case? Minister Song, you trained your subordinate well. He’s not even on the official rankings and yet he could teach a Jia rank warrior to solve a case. Both my entourage and Liu Shan Men will be given credit for this case.
Song Ou quickly thanked the emperor: “Thank you, your majesty!”
The emperor nodded. He then suddenly noticed the wound on Song Ou’s face: “Hmm? Minister Song, what happened? Are the bruises on your face from fighting with somebody?”
The emperor may have asked, but Long Zaitian who was standing to one side didn’t seem bothered, as a matter of fact, he didn’t care at all.
Fight as they may, no one from the three factions has ever directly mentioned their fights before the emperor. Not only would that indicate that the three factions did not get along, but would also be the equivalent of asking the emperor to strip them of their power. I don’t know how stupid, but you’d have to be darn stupid to do that.
But Brother Song just had to do it today.
“Your majesty, it was him!” Song Ou pointed to Long Zaitian, “Captain SonL had his men beat me up like this!”
The ministers were all shocked after hearing what he said, including Shen Yiren who stood by his side.
Shen Yiren returned last night and heard about it, but she didn’t know that Song Ou would complain before the emperor today. Shen Yiren clenched her teeth. She was wondering how Song Ou’s injuries looked so severe when there weren’t many injuries on his face. Turns out Song Ou was trying to exasperate the matter.
Shen Yiren couldn’t control her anger and blurted: “You useless idiot!”
Long Zaitian didn’t say anything, while those from the emperor’s security detail were already sick of listening. They just silently cussed at Song Ou for bringing trouble onto himself and others. If the emperor were to get mad, all three factions would be in trouble. If they were to be stripped of their power, Song Ou would become condemned by history.
The emperor revealed a puzzled look. He frowned slightly as he looked at Shen Yiren to ask: Is this your idea?
Liu Shan Men was currently in a weakened state. If they had nothing to back up their claims, trying to get rid of the Qilin Guards based on their claims alone would be impossible. If it was just a minor tussle, why would it be brought up before the emperor? The emperor therefore had to ask Shen Yiren first to avoid making a misinformed judgement.
Shen Yiren shook her head to indicate it had nothing to do with her.
The emperor’s expression turned grim.
The emperor never wanted the three factions to be in conflict with each other. It was just that Liu Shan Men was too weak, while the Qilin Guards were strong. The emperor wanted to balance their powers. He never thought about disposing of either faction. They were his left and right arms, so why would he go and slice one off?
The emperor was a former martial artist so he knew a little about the conflicts between the three factions. He just doesn’t bother with it. If one faction were to fight another today, and then another fought with yet another the day after, the emperor would have to deal with it. The imperial court would subsequently turn into a mess. Perhaps that’s why Long Zaitian dared to take three-hundred men to Liu Shan Men and cause a ruckus.
But Song Ou’s complaint came out of left field. It didn’t seem like he was purposely trying to attack the Qilin Guards nor did it seem like he had their Achilles heel. He just wanted the emperor to serve justice. The emperor was in a dilemma as he’d be in the wrong whether he asked or didn’t ask. So how would the emperor possibly look glad?
“Is that right…? Is that true, Minister Long?”
Although Song Ou’s attack came out of the blue which caught him off guard somewhat, he immediately returned to his senses. He shifted the corner of his lips into a smile and said: “That is a false accusation. Your majesty, Song Ou allowed his subordinates to cause a ruckus in our main courtyard yesterday. One of his young subordinates by the name of Tang Ye, has superb martial arts skills. He has been challenging people in the capital this month and everywhere he went. Yesterday, he started at our place. He injured our people in my absence. I was angry with the injustice, and thus impulsively…”
Song Ou watched Long Zaitian’s act and got angrier: “Based on what you’re saying, you’re the one that suffered the injustice!”
“Did I not?! Your majesty, please do not listen to his nonsense.” Long Zaitian proceeded to blind the emperor with his words, “Captain Song’s family is powerful. He could flatten a lone and weak warrior like myself with a mere word. I heard that the Song family’s second son was a tyrant. He is nicknamed Great Swordsman and Scholar of the South, Second to None Palm Master of Jiang Su. How would I dare bully somebody like that?”
“You… Don’t you make baseless accusations! Since when did my younger brother have such a nickname?! Your majesty, he…he’s talking nonsense!’
“Enough, ministers.” The emperor’s expression turned as cold as ice. He then gently said: “Are the two of you treating Xuan Wu hall like some teahouse for your bickering?”
Long Zaitian swiftly knelt down in unison with Song Ou and said: “I apologise, your majesty.”
The emperor shot Song Ou a death stare and thought to himself: Song Ou’s brain must’ve got booted by a donkey. What sort of person is the vice-captain of the Qilin Guards? How could you remove him just by flaunting a few wounds? I can’t believe you filed a complaint against him before me. Sigh, this guy can’t even file a complaint properly. How does Shen Yiren like this guy?
“Ministers, what do you think of the matter? Feel free to speak your mind.”
The emperor’s hand was forced. The battle between the three factions was never meant to be publicly discussed like this and yet Song Ou picked a fight under these circumstances. All the emperor could do was push the matter back and forth Tai Chi style and get around it.
A young man around twenty-four or twenty-five years of age who looked extremely handsome suddenly stepped out from the crowd. It was the emperor’s second son, the orange prince.
“I have something to say.”
“Oh? You have an opinion? How rare.” The emperor showed interest: “Speak.”
The orange prince respectfully said: “I believe that both parties had faults in the matter. Captain Song is to blame for letting his subordinates cause trouble, while Vice-captain Long is in the wrong for having his men assault Captain Song.”
“Hmm, so how do you suggest we resolve it?”
“I think…” The orange prince smiled proudly and continued: “Since the basis of the faults of both parties are related to martial arts, why not let the two let their martial arts skills do the speaking in the ring since the imperial martial arts tournament is starting? That shall resolve all their hatred and debts to one another. Is that not good?”
“Uhm, that makes sense.”
Emperor Yuansheng nodded: “The imperial martial arts tournament is soon to begin, so you two as high ranking ministers shouldn’t ruin the harmonious atmosphere. If you want to fight, fight in my ring. Send my orders, add two names to the list of participants, Long Zaitian and Song Ou.”
Long Zaitian’s expression didn’t change after hearing the decision.
Song Ou however, looked like he just ate a punch to the face.
Long Zaitian is one of the Hidden Dragons as he is ranked in the top twenty on Liu Shan’s Elites Rankings. He’s a fair bit stronger than Tie Hanyi. The only one from Nanjing’s Liu Shan Men who can fight him is Shen Yiren. Sending Song Ou out to fight Long Zaitian is the equivalent of sending him to his death.
Song Ou looked at the orange prince with complete disbelief, only to find the orange prince sharing glances with Long Zaitian merrily.
Ah! They got me!
Cute Master Song finally realised he got played.
Song Ou turned to face his fiancée. Shen Yiren just shallowly exclaimed: “Song Ou! If you dare to fucking embarrass yourself in public like this again, I’ll send you to the castration table.” Song Ou went white in the face after hearing her, and instinctively looked downwards before looking back up. He then suddenly spotted Shen Yiren’s leg swing upwards ferociously.
Song Ou couldn’t dodge in time. He groaned and sweated cold bullets. His two legs instinctively pulled inwards together. His eyes felt like they were going to pop out of his head, and then his body fell to the ground.