May I Ask Which Way to Go? (Part 4)
I only noticed His Majesty’s presence after entering the room. Based off of Boss Shen and Song Ou’s reactions, His Majesty needed to consult me, but it wasn’t appropriate for him to consult me personally. Boss went along with me when she discerned I had picked up his presence behind the screen.
I didn’t mind if Boss sat in to listen since, although Six Evils were a sect secret, the nation was also involved. Moreover, I wouldn’t make many mentions of personal information as long as His Majesty was around. I suppose she didn’t want to hear anything I didn’t take the initiative to tell her as a means of maintaining our relationship.
His Majesty seated himself in Shen Yiren’s erstwhile seat and cleared his throat: “Constable Ming.”
“May I ask which way to go?”
“Good question,” I replied with a sneer. “If you asked me this tomorrow, I would have told you to head back to the capital.”
“What makes the difference?”
“Nothing.” I looked up and copied His Majesty’s beard stroking motion. “It just felt cool to say.”
“You know, if I didn’t have a question for you, I’d have splattered your head with my foot.”
“Oh, I know. It was on purpose.”
“Hey, gentlemen do not speak with their feet!” I ran to the middle of the room to dodge the eagle kick.
“Come here! Come here!”
“An Emperor cannot kick his people! Keep this up, and I will not tell you anything!”
After our mini game of tag, His Majesty grouched, “Sit!”
I saluted His Majesty: “Thank you!”
His Majesty burst out laughing until his sides ached subsequent to sitting down. Man, I was worried the old man was going to have a heart attack. I was just playing him for my giggles, while he was laughing as if we nurtured some romantic feelings.
“How bloody dare you use me for your own entertainment, you punk?”
Didn’t know you knew me so well.
“I bet this is the real you, and the usual respectful version is just your acting. What’s changed? Not even willing to put on a front anymore?”
“There is nobody else. Whatever we say will remain between us and this room. I have nothing to fear unless you are the petty sort of person to try and get back at me later.”
“Witty, aren’t you? Are you backing down to save your hide? Whatever. I’ve had enough of these days. I’ve had my stretch, laughs and cursing.”
“How about I accompany you on a stroll?”
“Do I need you? Where have I not been to in Huzhou?”
“Never-Returning Spring Swallow?”
“The home of entertainment and flowers.”
Boss, from outside, cleared her throat as loud as a tiger’s roar.
“Ahem, Your Majesty, may your subject ask what you wish to consult him on?”
“Constable Ming, the nation now faces a crisis. You are needed. Here, have a drink. Let us discuss business. Let us discuss business.”
The two of exchanged eye signals to move the table further into the room so that Boss shouldn’t be able to hear us.
“Your Majesty, you need to say something.”
“Oh, Never-Returning Spring Swall-”
“No, I meant Luo Sword Manor.” The name summoned all of the stress back to His Majesty’s shoulders, but I continued, “There is a time for a jokes, but everything your subject stands by everything he said before. While his choice of words may have been exaggerated, Huzhou’s fate lies in your hands.”
His Majesty sat back in his seat, as tired as though we were the only ones who got a break. “You’re correct. I assume you’re aware of why I’m seeking your advice.”
The most knowledgeable people on Six Evils hail from Mount Daluo. Second to them were the imperial families of countries. Being privy to my future leadership of Mount Daluo meant being privy to what knowledge I inherited.
Mount Daluo’s duty was the exterminate Six Evils regardless of time and place. Howbeit, Mount Daluo was a lethal weapon that should only be deployed if all the boxes were ticked. Even a monarch must think twice and then twice again before he involves himself with either.
“It will depend on whether you are serious of not.”
“Of course I am.”
“Your Majesty, until you see one for yourself, you will never fathom the might of Six Evils or how many lives you will sacrifice.”
“I’m reaching out to you precisely because I don’t want Luo Clan’s tragedy to be repeated. Nobody knows how to slay them better than your sect does. The only way we can avoid needless deaths is if you aid me.” Emperor Yuansheng stretched a hand out to me. “Lend me your strength, Ming Feizhen. I will pay you back ten times over.”
I reclined and crossed an arm over the other: “What is your motivation?”
“For the greater good.”
Why does it feel as though I’m speaking to a wall of ice? Is it just me, or is Ming Feizhen imposing?
“You can shove your ‘greater good’ up your behind. Mount Daluo does not act for ‘the greater good’. We have cut ourselves off from the rest of the world and do as we wish. We decide how we will spend our lives. We’ve never cared about what happens to the world and people’s greater good. Likewise, the world has no business telling us what to do.”
I wasn’t surprised His Majesty thought long and hard prior to debating, but I never expected to hear, “I had a crush on Yujing before she got married.”
Why the hell are you sharing your thoughts on Luo Ming’s wife with me?! I knew you Emperors have a fetish for stealing men’s wives! I’m about to go back Luo Ming, you sick, perverted, despicable creep!
“Nevertheless, my respect for Luo Ming exceeds those feelings. He is more educated than any of my vassals, is a stellar swordsman and a man worthy of adulation. Nobody can say they don’t respect him. His clan thrived under his leadership. Women flock to him. I was jealous when I found out Yujing liked him, but then I was glad because he’s the only man worthy of her. The proof is in the pudding.
“I held Sijian, Sinian and Siju when they were babies. The last time I saw Sijian, he was only this tall.” Emperor Yuansheng gestured with his hand for me to see. “Luo Ming was still approachable back then. I let Lyu’er take him as his adopted father as I knew Luo Ming would be a better father than I can be.”
“You mean… you want to avenge your nephews?”
“When I met Luo Ming again, I hated to admit that I could see a demon of hatred had consumed him and gradually possessed everyone else around him. Regardless of how studied, how strong or how much determination he had, they were only feeding the demon. He died when his sons died. The one moving his body is just a demon of hatred.”
“You want to avenge your brother.”
“Lyu’er used him to secure his status, yet he never killed Lyu’er to avenge his sons. He could’ve killed me when he took me hostage, yet he didn’t. I know I’m right: he can’t steel his heart to kill us.”
“You want to avenge your nephews, former crush and Luo Ming as well as atone for your son?”
Emperor Yuansheng clenched his teeth as though it owed him money. “No, I want to protect my land.”
“The Seven Champion White Princes system impacts the people’s lives tremendously. To remove them, I have to start with Luo Sword Manor. If Luo Ming does commit treason, both the imperial court and Luo Clan will have to spill blood.
“Nanjiang and the Central Plain are harassing each other, with neither of us truly submitting to the other. Over thirty years ago, we were blessed to have two saviours finally win. Nieyao City is an ancient city of Nanjiang, so why leave it?”
While the two of us were never on the same wavelength when we spoke, our eyes met. Starting with a smile, I asked, “Are you aware how contradicting your facial expressions and vocal expressions are?”
“I do. However, I am an Emperor. As an Emperor, I cannot mix personal wishes with the nation’s wellbeing!”
I closed my eyes, allowing the silence to permeate for a while. “… You are telling me you wish Mount Daluo to lend its power for your personal desires?”
“What I’m saying is that I want Nieyao!” Emperor Yuansheng waited for a response, only to receive a mantou in his extended hand. “Ming Feizhen!”
I looked to the ceiling and cupped my mouth: “Second.”
Hong Jiu hopped off the ceiling, landing next to me: “Yes, Leader.”
“Notify scattered disciples of Mount Daluo it’s time for work.”
“On it! ”
Emperor Yuansheng watched Hong Jiu zoom off in bafflement: “Wh-wh-what does this mean?”
“It means that Mount Daluo’s third-generation disciple shall aid you.”
“You, I, you, I…”
“Your Majesty, although your motivation is selfish, childish and painfully stupid, Mount Daluo welcomes your kind.” I stopped at the door so that the eavesdropper with her ear plastered to the door could hear me and smiled. “Prepare to head out… to Nieyao City.”
“You can shove your ‘greater good’ up your behind…” – Ming Feizhen actually does use rude speech here.