The Benevolent Emperor and The Never-Ending Treacherous Schemes
An odd group of imperial guards appeared by the northern gate of the Forbidden City. They were dressed in all black. They didn’t resemble orthodox troops at all. To the contrary, they looked like a group of wanderers from the pugilistic world.
The group numbered around two-hundred. Judging from the structure of their formation, it appears they were separated into ten-man squads, therefore a total of twenty small squads.
They were the orange prince’s private military. By the looks of things, they were already lying in wait within the palace long ago. Their appearance was far too sudden, not to mention their odd attire. Even those from inside and outside of the imperial city as well as those behind the thick palace walls of the palace had no idea how a large group like that entered. But here they were inside.
They had received orders to chase down the emperor’s whereabouts.
Initially, they weren’t sure where the emperor was hiding. However, the help-signal the emperor sent into the sky gave them direction not long after they commenced their search.
And thus, two-hundred men who were like blood-thirsty wolves split up into twenty teams, spreading their web out as they commenced their search. In case they ran into imperial guards who would stop them to question them, they all had a token on them that would allow them free-passage without limits within the imperial city grounds.
The private military group cautiously searched every suspicious clue, every path and every location they deemed suspicious.
One of the small teams was most proficient.
The leader of that small team, who was also the leader of the entire group, was a man who looked tall and strong. He had a strong back and was muscular like his frame was made from iron. With one glance, you could see that he possessed the appearance of a formidable general on the battlefield.
Few people knew his name, since even he himself rarely used it to the point he almost forgot it. Those who know him these days refer to him as Zhong Ning.
Zhong Ning of Mystery.
He was in charge of finding the emperor for this revolt.
Half-an-hour had passed since the operation in the flying fish pavilion began. No matter where the emperor showed up now, it could have a huge effect on the outcome of the overall operation, so he had to search with all his effort.
As they sped through the imperial city, they suddenly heard someone shout: “Stop!”
Zhong Ning and the rest of the group stood still. They turned around to see a patrol unit comprised of about twenty imperial guards. The imperial martial arts tournament was held at the flying fish pavilion today while they were on patrol and didn’t get to watch it, so they felt unlucky and therefore tried to hide their anger. They never thought they’d run into this group of nobodies so they were eager to vent.
“Who are you people? How dare you run around in the imperial city grounds?” The leader of the imperial guards noticed that they had weapons on their back and exclaimed: “Oh my, you even brought weapons? Bringing weapons into the imperial city without permission… how many heads do you have?!”
Zhong Ning didn’t want to cause extra problems for himself so he followed the rules and showed the token: “We are from the orange prince’s manor and are here on orders to pursue a criminal.”
“Oh? The orange prince’s manor?” The leader seemed to somewhat fear the orange prince’s name so he revealed an odd look and continued: “Even so, you can’t just run around in the imperial city. Don’t do that next time.”
Zhong Yi saluted them the way you would in the pugilistic world with a hand clasped over a fist:
“Thank you sir.”
The leader of the imperial guards gave him a glare and said: “Go on.”
Zhong Ning ran past the group of imperial guards. Zhong Ning suddenly raised an eyebrow when he passed by the group of imperial guards. He turned his head around to look at one of the men among them. While he was in a disguise, there was no mistaking it was him.
Zhong Ning suddenly spun around and shouted: “Wait.” He emitted his formidable qi with his shout, creating an echo in the empty palace walls, and the result was apparent.
The leader of the imperial guards stood in place. A layer of cold sweat formed on his forehead as he asked with struggled to speak: “What is it?”
Zhong Ning ignored him completely. He just looked at one particular person. He quickly spotted two people who wore clothes that didn’t fit them and looked around forty or fifty. It was him. He stood out from the group. His comrade gave him a signal.
He found their main target!
Plan number two. Start.
Zhong Ning tried his best to suppress his excitement and emotions. He chuckled apathetically and said: “Hiding a tree in a forest. How smart of you to come up with a plan like this, using a passive strategy to erase suspicion. Unfortunately for you, you can’t hide from my eyes.”
One of them looked very handsome. He had the eyebrows of a middle-aged man and revealed his majestic aura. He was confident he was well-hidden, but he still got discovered. He couldn’t stop himself from sweating. Where did it go wrong?
But the middle-aged man replied calmly nonetheless: “Do you know who I am? You dare apprehend me?”
Zhong Ning revealed a cold smile: “I’ve spent ages searching for you. You think I don’t know who you are? Your majesty… you sure made things hard for me.”
The emperor felt dismayed. He himself was unsure where he slipped up. His perfect plan had crumbled.
This particular imperial guard unit really did just coincidentally pass by, and got a fright by the emperor and Eunuch Nan who were hiding in the flower garden. They almost passed out after listening to the emperor’s explanation. They emperor gave them a divine mission, and that was to get the two of them to their destination.
After only taking a few steps, they realised that there were people searching for them in the palace. The emperor consequently came up with a plan, and switched his role, hiding his identity as the master of the palace and disguising himself as a guard to investigate the private military of unknown origins. They forgot to hide themselves, but never expected to be discovered with just one glance.
The emperor stopped caring and shouted: “Men, arrest these rebels! I shall reward you handsomely.”
Seeing the savage smile the group of people dressed in black wore, the imperial guards couldn’t be any clearer as to who they were. They drew their weapons from their waist. They were more skilled than the imperial guards, but they had two-times the number of men. In an instant, they were locked in battle with each other.
At the same time, the emperor and Eunuch Nan ran off.
Zhong Ning shouted: “Where do you think you’re going?!” He pulled out two large sabres from his back, revealing two flashes from the metal blades. He swung his blade and a head flew over to the emperor and Eunuch Nan’s feet. The eyes on the head were open.
The emperor, shocked, thought to himself: How does he have such domineering sabre skills?!
Zhong Ning shouted: “Move men, let me at them!” His blades transformed into ferocious tigers, making it appear as though he wielded two tigers. The eighteen imperial guards were basically half-dead by the time they saw the blades.
The emperor felt apologetic to them. These are the guards of the palace. Good men you all are!
“Scum, how dare thou!”
The emperor picked up a long sabre from the ground and slashed at him with complete disregard for his own safety. Without even looking, Zhong Ning whipped his leg behind him and gave the emperor a heavy kick to the chest. The emperor currently didn’t have his internal energy to protect him and couldn’t avoid the kick in its entirety, so the kick sent him flying.
Zhong Ning savagely said: “You don’t need to be in such a rush to die. I’ll have no problem catching you after I’m done killing these imperial noob guards!”
Eunuch Nan helped the emperor up. In a shaky voice he said: “Your majesty, you must look after yourself, the bigger picture is most important!” He then dragged the emperor away. The emperor was hurting for the guards. My good men, my guards were killed by such scoundrels. I can’t help but shed tears for you.
Eunuch Nan led the emperor away as fast as he good, creating wind below their feet, but he didn’t care about any limiting qi at his dantian. He couldn’t ask for anything more than to grow a pair of wings and fly right now. They ran randomly through the palace. When they looked up, they saw a sign indicating it was the laundry room. Who knows where the workers there had gone to.
Just as the emperor was about to continue running forwards, Eunuch Nan suddenly pulled the emperor back and softly said: “Your majesty, hide in the water tank!”
Upon closer inspection, they found that there were over a dozen of water tanks in the laundry-room’s courtyard. There was no stored water in them and could fit two of them. Without saying much and ignoring taboos, the emperor immediately pulled Eunuch Nan into a water tank with him.
Not long after, the group that killed the entire small imperial guard unit had caught up.
Zhong Ning immediately focused his attention on a water tank that showed signs of being moved, but he didn’t say anything. He pretended to search the laundry room for a while. The emperor didn’t dare to breathe out in the water tank. Zhong Ning muttered: “They’re not here. This is a filthy place in the palace. That bastard is the current emperor after all. He wouldn’t lower himself to hiding here.”
The emperor was furious with what he heard, but he couldn’t do anything about it.
After searching around for a while in the courtyard area, he shouted: “Let’s go! Let’s go over there!” And then they ran into the distance.
After a long while, the emperor finally poked his head out to check outside, and indeed, nobody was there.
The emperor let out a breath of relief. But since they were searching for him outside, he still couldn’t leave. And so he had no choice but to return back to sitting in the water tank. Thinking back on the martial arts displayed by the private military group leader, the emperor couldn’t help but be amazed at his skills. Many on Liu Shan’s Elites Rankings wouldn’t be a match for him.
After contemplating their situation, he deemed it to be glum. The path ahead was unclear. The emperor was sort of out of it as he murmured: “Where do we go now?”
Seeing the dilemma the emperor was in, Eunuch Nan saw it as an opportunity to speak: “Your highness, I have a plan. May I speak?”
The emperor was aware he was knowledgeable and a veteran of the pugilistic world so he excitedly asked: “What kind advice might you have for me, Brother Junfei?”
“This plan is actually very idiotic, and is based on being pragmatic.” Eunuch Nan cautiously continued: “We are too far from the palace door. I am afraid that neither of us is able to fight off pursuers in our state.”
“As such, I would boldly like to ask you to go to your study.”
“My study?” The emperor gave a confused frown: “What purpose are we going to my study for?”
Eunuch Nan lowered his head and courteously said: “To grab the imperial jade seal.”
“Nan Junfei! What is the meaning of this? The orange prince wants to steal the imperial jade seal and you want me to take it out? Isn’t that the equivalent of presenting it to him?”
“Please calm down, your majesty and listen to my explanation.” Seeing how angry the emperor was, Eunuch Nan waited for a while. Once he saw that the emperor was opening up to listen to his explanation, he continued: “His highness’s main goal is to obtain the imperial jade seal. Once he obtains it, he may not even need to capture you, and could directly use it to commit treason. He does not know where the imperial jade seal currently is. While your study is large, finding it is but just a matter of time. In my opinion, the most urgent matter at present is for you to move the imperial jade seal’s location. We cannot leave it in the study anymore.”
“Your majesty, the men died terribly! Please take the risk for the men that gave up their lives if not for yourself!”
Seeing as Eunuch Nan was saying all this out of loyalty, he didn’t dare to lash out at him again and his anger slowly dissipated. He pondered the suggestion for a moment and then nodded and replied: “What you said makes sense. If Cheng’er gets his hands on the imperial jade seal, then the situation will be even worse. Let’s go to my study as per your suggestion.”