Fu Xiang Loses Favour to the Sly Young Dragon
Back at the flying fish pavilion, Long Zaitian who was pleased with himself laughed loudly along with the orange prince who was ten-times more pleased with himself. They were drinking and merry. The two of them chatted merrily together.
The orange prince bowed to thank Long Zaitian, while Long Zaitian understood the formalities, behaving like “if this wasn’t the case, how would i have a beauty to keep me company?”
Long Zaitian started fanning himself with his treasured Wen Zhengming fan: Cheng Kong shall rule from today while Yuan Sheng makes way. Your majestic name shall echo through the lands for years to come.
The orange prince pointed upwards with his finger with the white-jade ring: That can’t compare to having a beauty by your side, enjoying the freedom and winning the envy of others like you, Minister Long.
The two of them chatted and laughed. The initially heavy atmosphere turned friendly.
But all of the warriors in the flying fish pavilion glared at the fatuous prince and treacherous minister as they cursed them with every word they could come up with. No one knows who started it, but they didn’t stop.
The orange prince didn’t care at first, but after listening to them for a while, he couldn’t help himself from slinging an insult back at them. That’s how the verbal war broke out. It might not be so bad if you just leave them to their own device, but the moment you sling something back at them, then all hell breaks loose. The warriors cursing realised their cursing was effective, so they laughed and relished in cursing at them even more. There was one guy that stood out. He was a constable from Liu Shan Men. Man, he cursed them over everything, leaving no stones unturned, used all sorts of words and then improvised to come up with even more insults. Everybody included the orange prince was laughing at his insults.
But who was he?
That would be none other than Zha Pi! After Ming Feizhen got promoted, he promoted Zha Pi to a small-time constable guarding the doors. Today was his off-day, so he came to watch the matches. He never expected that not only would he end up detained, but that his big bro would be beat up too. And so Great Master Zha who was a man with profound pugilistic-ruffian-qi decided “fuck it”.
Zha Pi’s insulting arts were acquired from his time on the streets, the true authentic stuff. His late-father was an official too so he was at the very least home-schooled. So when he started cursing at people, it was on another level compared to crude insults these vulgar martial artists used.
As soon as he started, he was unleashing hell, quoting copious authors, spitting: bitch, bastard, motherfucker, sisterfucker, get fucked, fuck yourself… He went at the empress to the empress dowager to the empress’s brother. He brought in farmers rescuing poisonous snacks, corn-eating rodents… He went after the emperor’s ancestors, and said that Emperor Sui Wen raised a traitor.
He got the orange prince so mad he was grinding his teeth. If he weren’t short of men, he would’ve ordered his men to slap every single one of the martial artists across the face.
“How dare you speak to me like that you low-life piece of trash?!”
The orange prince glared at the gossiping warriors. The royal family members, ministers and officials showed the orange prince a certain degree of respect, even though a fair number of them weren’t willing to surrender. But the orange prince refrained from swearing at them when he considered his status. It was different with the warriors though. They weren’t used to seeing a son screw his father over in such an uncultured way. They were saying how his mother would’ve been better off giving birth to a sweet-potato instead. The orange prince was unwilling to stoop down to their level and argue with them. The Black Winds Thirteen Wings couldn’t out-curse so many of them alone, especially the constable from Liu Shan Men who was using vulgar language, talked fast like the wind and argued heatedly like a learned man.
Today was the most important day. He was the great Emperor Cheng Kong whom even Emperor Yuan Sheng had to call Master Cheng. If he couldn’t even take care of these martial artists, then he wouldn’t be like an emperor, so of course the orange prince wanted to get in there and have a go at them.
But there was nothing he could do. He had nowhere to vent his anger. That was when Long Zaitian suddenly said: “Your highness, they are just a bunch of insignificant mongrels. There is something more important to attend to right now.”
“Something more important? Oh, right. Look at me… Minister Long, you truly are my competent minister.” When the orange prince complimented him, Long Zaitian bowed to thank him. The orange prince then shouted: “Where is Fu Xiang?!”
Fu Xiang stepped out from amidst the imperial guards, bowed with his hands and asked: “What orders do you have your highness?” Fu Xiang and Long Zaitian exchanged glances when he stepped out. A spark of lightning appeared between their eyes when they exchanged glances. That was their ambitions and fear for one another clashing.
Fu Xiang who took on the name Jiao Meng was responsible for protecting the orange prince right from the beginning. Though he could now return to being addressed as Fu Xiang, the way he was treated didn’t change much. That left him somewhat puzzled. Long Zaitian could sit next to him, while Fu Xiang, the man with the most merit was merely standing to the side as a guard. In terms of martial prowess, he was more than twice as good as Long Zaitian. In terms of prestige, Fu Xiang was one of Mystery’s members. In terms of reputation in the martial world, he was several times superior to the Qilin Guard who never leaves the capital, Long Zaitian.
But Fu Xiang was stuck wearing the Qilin Guards uniform, and could only stand next to the orange prince,
Fu Xiang understood why and the orange prince understood it even better. This was his position. Regardless of how skilled he was or how significant his accomplishments were. An assassin was doomed to remain away from the public-eye. Perhaps the orange prince was going to have him enter the imperial court and get closer to the centre of power under a different identity. Indeed, that was the orange prince’s plan. However, that was a plan to be enacted in many years’ time after setting up various pretexts. His disguise arts were not to be used regardless of the circumstances.
Fu Xiang was sixty this year, yet he looked thirty or forty from his appearance. He had trained his body and practiced lots of qigong all these years, allowing him to look and feel young regardless of age. But an interesting question was if his desires grew with his age as a result of him keeping a serene mind for many years, subsequently leading to him joining this plan of the prince with his comrades in Mystery.
However, his current situation told him that he was different to Long Zaitian. He wasn’t the one the orange prince needed. Long Zaitian poisoned the warriors and accomplished a deed that was to the benefit of the orange prince, and that was considered merit without question. But the important difference was that Long Zaitian made an accomplishment as himself, so he could be promoted in the future, and pass down prestige to his descendants as well as leaving them with an abundance of wealth.
The orange prince wanted to form a new political power, so he needed men to form a new team. It wasn’t as though the orange prince couldn’t rely on these royal family members and major ministers who didn’t accept him, but rather that the orange prince didn’t dare to rely on many of them. He himself was a traitor, so how would he dare to employ ministers of the former ruler?
The orange prince needed his own team, and Long Zaitian was a good choice for a foundational member. He was the vice-captain of the Qilin Guards who was stationed in the capital. There are three vice-captains in the Qilin Guards office, but Long Zaitian was the only one stationed in the capital. This meant that other than being thought of highly by the commander of the Qilin Guards, he was also very knowledgeable about the capital’s defences and so forth. Long Zaitian was going to be the one the orange prince needed to rely on in the future in terms of control over the military offices. As such, the orange prince put in lots of efforts to recruit him. Most importantly, Long Zaitian was considered a traitor without question by the three offices. He was doomed to never be able to return to his old team with that stigma now. Hence, the orange prince didn’t have to worry about employing him.
At the end of the day, the three offices, and even the entire imperial court were just a machine for the ruler to use in his rule. It was fine if they weren’t loyal. The orange prince was of the belief that a team formed on benefit and profit was the most effective team for operations.
“Fu Xiang, are your men still around?”
Fu Xiang courteously replied: “They are. What are you orders, your highness?”
“I don’t have any orders, but you still have the same number of men as before which is really odd. Where are the people that returned?”
Fu Xiang then realised that the orange prince was actually finding fault with him.
“Your men have been gone for too long, have they not? Have they made any discoveries? It’s been a long time. Didn’t you tell them to send someone back to report every thirty minutes?” The orange prince wore a sombre look and continued: “Aren’t your men exceedingly useless? They can’t even get a small task like that done properly?”
Needless to say, the orange prince was referring to the emperor’s whereabouts. Three hours had passed, yet he hadn’t heard anything from the emperor. All of the dukes and ministers as well as a weakened Shen Yiren to the side started listening in closely.
The orange prince wasn’t worried about letting them hear him nevertheless. The orange prince and mystery had prepared three stages to their plan.
Forcing the abdication of the throne here in the flying fish pavilion was only the first part.
The orange prince knew the emperor’s personality far too well. He was someone who would rather die than submit ever since he was young. Further, while the orange prince didn’t like the emperor, he was a filial son toward his mother. He knew that his mother and father had strong feelings for each other so he couldn’t bring himself to use crueller means, such as torture.
Therefore, they were going to trick the emperor instead of capturing him when they found him. They were going to trick him into going to his study to retrieve the imperial jade seal, and then have Yu Ye, Eunuch Nan who was by his side snatch it from him.
But Yu Ye alone couldn’t succeed. They needed another assassin to assist, and that was where Zhong Ning came in. Zhong Ning would join a private military and then would chase the emperor down with brutal methods to force him to the brink of break-down. They needed someone strong and domineering to achieve that, so Zhong Ning who looked tough and was strong was absolutely necessary to that step of the plan.
That was why Eunuch Nan risked his life to smuggle Zhong Ning and the private military into the palace as well as providing them with a pass-token.
But three hours have passed and it would be harder to carry out the operation once night falls. What’s going on? Is there no news? No wonder the orange prince got anxious and had to speak up.
“Please rest assured yourhighness.” Fu Xiang clasped his hands and said: “It is not an easy task. It requires time and patience.”
The orange prince frowned and asked: “How much time and patience do I require then?”
Long Zaitian was listening from the side the entire time as he carefully drank his wine. He didn’t know about the plans for the third stage of the plan. It was a top secret. Not even all members of Mystery knew. The only ones who knew of the full plan were the orange prince, Fu Xiang and Kuang Tian. Not even Yu Ye, Eunuch Nan, their spy in the palace for over a decade who was also tasked with snatching the imperial jade seal knew. Zhong Ning who was going after the emperor wasn’t aware of the entire plan either.
However, Long Zaitian has the skills of a fish in troubled waters. Long Zaitian wasn’t any better than Fu Xiang at proper work, but when it came to dragging people down with him then taking advantage of the situation to use them as a stepping stone to climb up, Long Zaitian was a professional among professionals. It was a skill he refined in all the years he dealt with people from the imperial court combined with the experience he gathered as the subordinate of the captain of the place they call The Devil’s Qilin Guards. He took his time listening to their conversation and then looked for a chance to butt in.
“We’re talking about two-hundred men here, and yet not one came back to report in. Don’t go screwing up now.”
The orange prince’s questioning cornered Fu Xiang. He suddenly had an idea and replied: “Your highness, sometimes no news is good news.”
His response couldn’t be any more obvious.
If Zhong Ning came to report every half-an-hour, then that meant he had no leads. However, if he did find the emperor, then it would take him some time to pursue him. Given that it takes time like that, having no one come back to report in was actually good news.
“Huh? Did I hear that right?” It was as though Zha Pi possessed Long Zaitian. He fanned himself with Wen Zhengming’s fan, “No news is good news. That would mean we’re in trouble if he’s not in trouble. You’re calling a botched job a job done well? Failure must be an accomplishment then. Your highness, what do you think?”
The orange prince nodded and exclaimed: “He’s right! Minister Long is right.”
Fu Xiang shot Long Zaitian a violent glare: “What are you saying, Vice-captain Long? You’re not part of the inner circle, so please don’t interfere with my conversation with his highness.”
“Eh? What do you mean? I am his highness’s loyal subordinate and I was just pointing out your faults, is there a problem? And what did you call me? His highness personally conferred me the title of General of the Front of the Hall. You called me vice-captain? What’s this? What’s this? Someone is missing the old rule when today is Emperor Cheng Kong’s first day on the throne.”
Long Zaitian pulled his eyebrows together and bickered with Fu Xiang. To be frank, his pose with his nostril pointed up to the sky while fanning himself is an awful sight to behold.
Fu Xiang is considered a very knowledgeable person in Mystery, but he wasn’t as clever as the clown Long Zaitian when it came to talking. He caught two mistakes within three sentences and one of them was hard to wriggle his way out of.
The orange prince continued nodding like a retard though: “Yes, Minister Long is right. You should change the way you address him, Fu Xiang. This is my General Long, not Yuan Sheng’s Vice-captain Long anymore.”
“You need not blame Teacher Fu, your highness. He is from the pugilistic world, so he needs to learn our culture slowly. He is still unaware of the taboos. As they say, the ignorant cannot be blamed.”
“You’re right. The ignorant cannot be blamed.”
Fu Xiang was about to explode. What is going to happen if Long Zaitian leads the orange prince astray? Everything he says is right. Truthfully speaking, Fu Xiang doesn’t know the taboos. The orange prince was a usurper and that was what he was concerned with all this time, but he had no one he could talk about it to, so with Long Zaitian bringing the old rule and new rule into the mix, it naturally struck a chord with the orange prince.
After gaining the upper hand, Long Zaitian felt extremely pleased with himself and didn’t hesitate to flaunt it.
Fu Xiang shot him an aggressive glare and added General Long to the list of people he would have to compete with in the future. He then looked to Shen Yiren by the side who was weakened yet still looked magnificently beautiful. Fu Xiang was entering his sixties. He didn’t view the matters between men and women with too much importance, except Shen Yiren was well-versed in both literacy and martial arts, and looked beautiful which just happened to suit his tastes. When Fu Xiang’s old eyes caught sight of Shen Yiren’s well-endowed breasts, his eyes got stuck on them and his carnal desires rose inside him.
Fu Xiang said to himself: Fuck! She’s great at martial arts, she has a beautiful face, massive tits, fuck you could die of an erection she causes. Long Zaitian picks fights with me at every corner and even this ultimate beauty is his. Fuck this…… The first person I kill when the prince is crowned will be him!
His vicious thoughts filled his eyes with murderous intent.
“Fu Xiang, what are you thinking about? I asked you a question.”
When he heard the orange prince’s voice, his murderous intent vanished. However, he didn’t hear what the orange prince said clearly so he stuttered for words before catching sight of something. He clasped his fist with his other hand and rhetorically asked: “Look, have they not come back?”
The orange prince focused his gaze. Someone coming back to report was in the distance!