The Emperor Personally Joins
“That is a horrendous plan! You want me to work with the League of Assassins?! Are you listening to yourself?!” fumed the Emperor, glaring at me.
“You can use another name! Your surname is Li, and your dharma name is Yuansheng, correct? Here, I will come up with a name for you. Um… how does Li Fangzhang sound?”
“Tell Li Fangzhang to bugger off!!” The Emperor was so close to flipping the table over. He added, “Also, it’s my reign title. Not my dharama name! Only monks have dharma names!”
Prime Minister Li: “Your Majesty, deep breaths, deep breaths.”
“My goodness gracious, Amitabha. In short…” The Emperor took a few deep breaths before carrying on: “Since you are all here, we need to discuss the details. For instance, how will we surround them in a forest on the mountain, how will we capture them in one fell sw-.”
“Hehe, Your Majesty, set the forest ablaze!” I recommended.
His Majesty: “Get lost! Find somewhere I can’t see you and lost get! Ah, I’m so exasperated I can’t even speak properly!”
The Emperor was seriously angry. I mean, he went at me straight in my face. After he was done raging, he muttered under his breath, “How come everyone from Mount Daluo is a clown? Are they an orthodox sect or a den of bandits and rogues…?”
I was very, extremely, incredibly displeased. I thought, “Abbot Li, you really are annoyed, huh? Aren’t I giving you the blueprint to defeat Abels? Go on; ask your other subjects. See if they can come up with a superior plan. I’ll wait.”
Looking troubled in many ways, the Emperor asked, “Ming Feizhen, where did you learn all those ideas from?”
With his eyes narrowed and in a strange tone, Long Zaitian uttered, “I wonder if he knows the way bandits work so well because he was once a bandit.”
I coughed: “Uh, um, I learnt a few tweaked strategies for handling cases from Vice-Captain.”
Long Zaitian: “Hmph, if you call those tweaked strategies, what do you call people, like us, who don’t know about those tweaked strategies?”
I gave Long Zaitian a condescending glance: “Idiots.”
Long Zaitian brayed, “Heh! Still spouting so much hogwash in His Majesty’s presence, is you want to fight me?!”
‘Okay, you itchy, are you?! Someone bring me a bread roll. I’ll destroy you even if I only have a string of noodle!’
The Emperor slammed his gavel and raged, “Enough, enough, I’m getting a headache just listening to you. I called you here, where it’s nice and quiet, so that you could all discuss this with a calm frame of mine. The next person to make a scene will fight me!”
The Emperor looked stern and firm as a warrior from the pugilistic world. Once we quietened down, he calmly said, “This is more serious than you might imagine. This isn’t only about my pride or the imperial court’s reputation. Yiren is a daughter to me. She is the only descendant of Shen Clan. Should any misfortune befall her, I wouldn’t be able to face Brother Shen on the other side. Just as importantly, Evil Spirits must have a bigger agenda here in the Central Plain. We can’t be careless.”
“We agree,” everyone responded in unison.
The Emperor continued, “As for what Head Constable Ming suggested… he is not wrong. That being said… we can’t employ his strategies.”
I blinked: “So, no more League of Assassins, Fangzhang?”
The Emperor shot a glare my way. I swiftly took cover behind the prime minister, or the Emperor would’ve grabbed a weapon and assaulted me.
“Besides sending out an army, the other details are up for discussion. Keeping our military out of the Seven Champion White Princes’ territories is part of the alliance pledge from a hundred years ago. Huzhou is already part of Luo Sword Manor. They, in essence, are the imperial court’s military industry. They are responsible for producing our militaries’ weapons. Among the seven, they are the most important faction to bring to our side. I cannot defy my ancestors and send soldiers to Huzhou.”
Tie Hanyi calmly debated, “But, Your Majesty, Abels is one of the Supreme Ten Saints. Without a large army, we would not be his match. Your subject is not refusing to sacrifice his life. The reality is the only thing we can see in hindsight if we rely on just our three offices is pointless sacrifice.”
Normally, Tie Hanyi’s comments would’ve earned the ire of his master; however, Tie Hanyi said what he said out of loyalty, which matched his cautious nature. His Majesty liked that about Tie Hanyi.
Tone cordial, the Emperor vetoed, “Not necessarily. We don’t need outside help to subdue Abels. I have someone in mind.”
Long Zaitian: “Besides The Ultimate Three, few could match the Supreme Ten Saints. Your Majesty, who might you be referring to…?”
“No, not The Ultimate Three,” replied the Emperor, smiling. “Luo Sword Manor’s master has always been a good friend of mine. We once crossed paths in our younger years. He is a renowned gentleman who was an erstwhile member of the Supreme Ten Saints during his prime. The Supreme Ten Saints rankings are updated every five years, while he and his Drunken Swordplay has been absent from the pugilistic world for the last decade. If he was still active, he would be among the three greatest swordsmen. I can confidently say he could defeat Abels. Regardless of Evil Spirits’ numbers, Abels is the only concern. So, if we add your three offices into our forces, we would likely decimate them.”
I heard of Luo Sword Manor’s Master Luo before. Indeed, he was one of the best swordsmen of his era. Divine Moon Cult’s Old Blade Demon and him fought to a draw back in the day. Apparently, he was friends with my shifu, too. He went into seclusion by the time I was active in the pugilistic world, however.
Prime Minister Li Si said, “Your Majesty, would you be referring to Master Luo, Luo Sword Flying God? According to what your subject has heard, his swordplay has reached a level so high he is able to fly on his sword and decapitate opponents from over a hundred and fifty metres away. He has passed on all the logistical duties to his successor to focus on his own training for a decade. His name may have faded from the world, but he should be more skilled than ever.”
“That is exactly whom I have in mind,” replied the Emperor, nodding with a smile.
The prime minister pulled his eyebrows together: “It is said that he is an imperious individual who refuses to see people he considers menial, though. He did not participate in the battle against Demon Sect back then, either. Your subject would assume it would be difficult to request his aid.”
“That is true. In this day and age, there are no more than three people who could ask him for a favour. One of them is Blade Demon, who he promised to rematch, and the other is his sworn brother. They both move around frequently, so it would be impossible to find them anytime soon.”
“In that case, he would not b-.”
“Wait, Prime Minister. Didn’t I say three people? The third individual is his sworn brother in life and death, myself!”
All that drivel just to say that and with a smug look, I might add.
‘Selling out your buddy… what a sad Emperor.’
A smile came to Prime Minister Li Si’s lips: “Your subject did consider that. He is an oddball. If you ask for him to help, he might come. In saying that, if you want someone of his standing to work with our three offices…”
“That won’t be a concern. I’ve already thought about how to overcome that.” Emperor Fangzh-, Emperor Yuansheng smiled proudly.
“I shall personally go and ask him to help.” The Emperor stroked his beard and grinned: “I must personally go to Yiren’s aid. I am going to make a covert trip to Jiangnan!”
*Li Fangzhang = Abbot Li. The joke is Ming Feizhen put no effort into coming up with a name whatsoever, because his naming sense is basically his role. Imagine giving someone the name “Secretary Li” because his surname is Li and you wanted to give him a first name and choose Secretary.
*Long Zaitian’s, “… Is you want to fight me?!” is deliberately written grammatically incorrect because he adopts a dialect that makes his Chinese grammatically wrong.
A bit of trivia: in Northern China, people differentiate between s+vowel sounds and sh+vowel sounds, whereas in Southern China, they often don’t. This extends beyond just “s” and “sh” words, mind you.
Example: In Northern China regions, people pronounce “shi” as “shi” and “si” as “si”. In Southern China regions, people often pronounce “shi” as “si” and “si” as “si”.
How can you differentiate? Experience.