Distinguishing the Loyal and Traitorous Inside the Imperial Study
“Your majesty, I shall stay here to keep watch. Please go and grab the imperial… that.” Outside of the imperial study, Eunuch Nan decided to stop at the entrance and not dare enter the study. The emperor pushed the door to the study open. The interior was as it always was, except that he came here to read in the past instead of hiding like he was now, not to mention that it was his own son that forced him into this predicament.
Nobody was standing guard outside of the imperial study which was very surprising, as there was a guard every five steps here just yesterday. Now however, there wasn’t a soul in sight. It truly was a sight that one couldn’t help but sigh at.
When Eunuch Nan noticed the emperor not continuing in, he couldn’t resist his impatience. While still wearing his usual expression, he respectfully asked: “What is the matter, your majesty?”
The emperor glanced at him and with a sad smile replied: “Brother Junfei, I am the emperor, yet I have been forced to move the imperial jade seal elsewhere to avoid a disaster at the hands of my own son. I truly fail as an emperor and as a father.”
Eunuch Nan thought to himself: If you did a good job, I would’ve decapitated you years ago. Would I have needed to trick you into coming here today?
However, he kept his concerned expression on the surface: “Your majesty, please do not feel down about it. This is a mistake his highness committed in a moment of thoughtlessness. As long as you can keep the imperial jade seal safe, you will always have the necessary piece to turn this situation around. Once you have gathered your people to subjugate his highness, you will naturally have a chance to set him straight. Your majesty, this place does not look it has been taken over, but we cannot stay for long.”
The emperor however, acted like he didn’t hear him. He stood at the door of the study and didn’t enter. Instead, he leisurely complained: “It’s easier said than done to set him straight. I have always been strict with them since they were young. But according to what the Cheng’er said, I did wrong him in some ways. He was passionate about military strategies. His dream was to protect our lands and people. I shouldn’t have forced him. I don’t know how to clean up this mess now that I’ve forced him into usurping the throne.”
Eunuch Nan looked at the sky. The moon was gradually coming up.
I’m afraid the orange prince might not be able to wait anymore. Zhong Ning should have reported back to the flying fish pavilion by now, while I haven’t completed my task here yet. When the time to announce rewards and merits, I’m going to be at the bottom for sure like this.
Eunuch Nan responded in an amicable tone: “You need not worry, your majesty. His highness is your biological son after all, the son of her highness, and never left you before. You watched him grow up. If somebody was deliberately trying to harm you, surely it would not be his highness, right? I am afraid that someone may be using his highness and that person is the one who got him to commit this act of treason. His highness possesses a pure heart. It is understandable for him to be used by another in a moment of thoughtlessness.”
The foggy look in the emperor’s eyes slowly started to clear up: “Did you say that Cheng’er had a moment of thoughtlessness…? It doesn’t look that way to me. He deliberately planned it. For him to pull off something so big inside the palace, I think it’s safe to say he’s been planning this out for a long time.”
“There are many flaws in their operation, your majesty.” Eunuch Nan started to reveal his impatience in his speech, “Think about it, your majesty, if Long Zaitian did not work with them, the plan would not have succeeded. Long Zaitian is but one of the four vice-captains in the Qilin Guards. If their grand commander was not away from the capital, he would not be making the decisions. As such, his majesty using someone like that was taking a chance. For it to be a deliberately thought out plan, it is not well thought out.”
Due to his growing impatience, Eunuch Nan gave his opinion on the orange prince’s plan. Using Long Zaitian was actually a spur-of-the-moment idea the orange prince came up with. All four members of mystery thought it wasn’t a wise idea.
The original plan was to have Eunuch Nan who was familiar with the palace drug them as it was safe and convenient for him. However, that meant that there would be too much reliance on Mystery. The orange prince worried that they would threaten his rule in the future. Thus, our Emperor Cheng Kong went and deployed a check and balance tactic by using Long Zaitian who looked like a ruffian to keep Mystery in check. He never imagined that it would become the biggest flaw in the plan.
While listening to him, the emperor thought about everything deeply.
“No, that’s not right.” The emperor shook his head while waving his hand: “The key to his plan was the imperial martial arts tournament. The imperial martial arts tournament is conducted once every five years. However, it was conducted before the next schedule which wasn’t part of his plan. I would assume that I threw off his plan by moving it to an early date. Cheng’er originally aimed for two years later. So can you really call it deliberate? If Cheng’er had an extra two years to prepare, I would most likely be captured already.”
That was factual. The orange prince did indeed plan to launch his plan into action two years from now. This operation was launched all of a sudden with things not as ready as predicted.
Eunuch Nan thought to himself: You’re not completely stupid, you tyrant.
“Your majesty, we can sort this out later. If you do not grab the seal now, people might get here.”
The emperor nodded: “You’re right. Please keep watch then, Brother Junfei.”
“I shall wait for you, your majesty.”
With that the emperor stepped into the imperial study and closed the door.
Eunuch Nan was elated. He was just moments away from getting his hands on the imperial jade seal. He could help the orange prince ascend the throne and he, Yu Ye will be the vassal that accomplished a great deed so he would be conferred a rank of nobility and become a minister, not to mention infinite wealth too.
This dynasty permits eunuchs becoming ministers. As someone who came from the pugilistic world, he could only move about in the inner parts of the palace as someone at the emperor’s side. But if he serves the orange prince, he will be able to become an elder of the new dynasty. That was his reason for choosing to serve the orange prince.
As for the old emperor, out of consideration for his nice treatment toward me, I’ll give him a swift death after he’s served his purpose. They are father and son after all. If they mend their relationship after some time, we rebels will be the ones who have to deal with trouble, so it’s best to just finish him off. I can just tell the orange prince he got so furious he died. He did revolt after all, so who can he blame for angering his father to death?
He almost laughed out loud when he had the thought. Eunuch Nan stood properly as he waited for that awaited moment.
But after a long time, it was silent inside the imperial study. Eunuch Nan naturally focused in to listen carefully and gently knocked on the door.
After a while longer, Eunuch Nan in a muffled voice called out: “Your majesty? Your majesty?”
He didn’t dare to rush him or push the door and enter, fearing that he’d raise the emperor’s suspicion. If he doesn’t get his hand on the imperial jade seal, he wouldn’t have accomplished anything in this operation. Therefore, he had to be cautious.
“Your majesty…. it is I. Are you alright?”
It was dead-silent inside.
Eunuch Nan clicked his tongue. What’s going on? Could he have entered some secret passageway and can’t hear? Yeah, that must be it. Such a precious object like the imperial jade seal wouldn’t be placed somewhere obvious within reach.
He waited for a bit longer but he was starting to get anxious.
After pondering it over and over, he thought to himself: Since he’s entered a secret passageway, he won’t see me even if I go in to take a look. What’s wrong with entering?
But he didn’t dare to enter the end. If he was discovered now, there probably wouldn’t be any good ending awaiting him. If his intent was to be discovered and the emperor destroyed the imperial jade seal, he’d be in for it.
After a while longer, he couldn’t suppress his urge anymore, so he took action.
Eunuch Nan quickly pushed the door open and entered. He rolled lightly on the ground, knelt there and then in a shaky voice said: “Y-Your majesty, people have come! I am afraid that they will discover us, so I had no choice but to commit this crime punishable by death. Please forgive me, your majesty!”
All he got for his amazing performance though was awkward silence.
It was scary-quiet inside the imperial study. Plus, it was completely dark as there were no lights on and the atmosphere was eerie.
Eunuch Nan knelt there for a while before slowly raising his head to ask: “Y-Your majesty?” He looked left and ride, but all that was in sight were bookshelves as well as the table right at the front. There wasn’t a single trace of the emperor.
Eunuch Nan thought to himself: So there is a secret passageway after all.
But then he couldn’t see any secret passageway in sight. If there was a mechanism, he’d have heard it while standing outside. While he was confused, something flashed right in front of his eyes, nearly knocking his soul out of his body!
Right in a corner in the darkness was a small folding window.
The first thing Eunuch Nan thought of was: The emperor ran off!!
The thought of it gave him cold feet. He has great listening senses, but there’s no guarantee he won’t miss things. If the emperor sneaked out through the window then it may just have escaped his ears.
But in that case, just when did the emperor find out he was a mole?!
His suppressed fear resurfaced in his heart when he thought back to how the emperor maintained his usual majestic aura. His plan to kill the emperor just now had gone down the drain in an instant. If he let the emperor escape, he was doomed given how the emperor usually dealt with evil!
Eunuch Nan suppressed the fear in his heart and rushed over to the window to check it out. He no longer cared if he alerted anyone.
Before he could get a good look, the sound of something flew through the darkness. Eunuch Nan instinctively went to smack it away. But his force was stopped and he felt a sharp pain in his palm. Something incomparably sharp stabbed through his palm and went straight into his chest. Eunuch Nan groaned out loud and then fell backwards.
A silhouette appeared from between the bookshelves in the darkness.
Eunuch Nan slowly opened his eyes with disbelief because he was ambushed by him.
Eunuch Nan resisted the pain at his chest and the sharp pain in his palm. With utter disbelief he exclaimed: “Wh-Why… why did you attack me… your majesty?!”
The emperor wore an angry look as he slowly emerged from the darkness with a crossbow in his hand,
“You surprised? You entered the imperial study without permission which is punishable by death. How can you cry innocent?”
Eunuch Nan quickly rushed to explain himself: “I am innocent, you highness! I am innocent! I saw suspicious people moving around outside and was afraid that you would be exposed if I was found. I… I… I did not think my actions would cause you to suspect me. I deserve to die.”
“You do indeed deserve to die.”
The emperor just looked at him with a sad and angry look as he shook his head.
“You revealed yourself so soon, Nan Junfei.”
The emperor glared at Nan Junfei and firmly declared: “Or maybe I should call you, Assassin Yu Ye!”