The Value of Braised Pork Shoulders in Soy Sauce
Zhuiyue wouldn’t let go of my sleeve so that he could tell me of all the rises and falls of heroes from Qin Shihuang’s era, Emperor Wu of Han, Water Margin and even Journey to the West. He gave me a thorough analysis of how serious it was to not be married and have a child at twenty-eight years of age… Zhuiyue was a great kid, except he wouldn’t stop talking until he was dead!
Had it not been for Zhuiyue performing all those charitable acts in the last few years, the orthodox sects would probably spit every time they heard my name. Hell yeah, I was glad I adopted him back then.
Anyway, I stopped Zhuiyue since he was going to continue after he had been going for an hour straight. “Let’s not debate why Sun Wukong couldn’t marry. Let’s talk about Nanjiang’s situation first.”
“No! I must explain to you why Tang Sanzang could not get married. I assume you are perplexed.”
“Of course I am! He’s a monk! How can a monk marry?!”
“… I didn’t know that…”
“Enough of that. I have a mission for you. Nod if you accept. Shake if you refuse. Choose now.”
Zhuiyue took my head and affirmatively nodded thrice. “I will do everything in my power for you!”
“Good to hear. I guarantee you’ll have a satisfying death! Before that, though, we need to go see the barbaric savage of a King.”
The prison guard elaborated, “The King he groped.”
Zhuiyue reproached me with his gaze.
“Our monarch is a man.”
Zhuiyue released my hand instantly. “Mr. Ming, where are we going?”
Oi! What the hell?! He’s a she! I grope wom-, I mean, I don’t grope women, I… Ah, fook me!
Feng Xue had always been a fan of tea, particular tea harvested from the Central Plain. Needless to say, Xiacang Anxi had their own unique taste, but it was earmarked for special people in the royal palace.
Ah Neath stayed by Feng Xue’s side as he reclined in his chair and relished his tea because they didn’t know what the next assassination attempt would entail or when it’d occur. At this point, Ah Neath had to take the risk of letting her Princess Consort know she was no longer in the dark if she wanted to keep her life.
Ah Neath briskly paced in circles, repeating, “I’ll kill him! I’ll kill him! I’ll kill him!” whilst scowling in addition to huffing and puffing.
Lame! Annoying! Talking without consideration for anyone’s feelings! No respect for a ruler! Even groped me twice!
“Hey! That prisoner put on death row just now, skin him and feed him to a tiger tonight!”
“Yes, Your Majesty!” The messenger jogged off.
Looking askance at Feng Xue, Ah Neath grouched, “Did you not hear me? I’m sending someone to kill him.”
“This old one heard you. Those poor soldiers are going to need workplace injury compensation.”
“Are you saying my soldiers aren’t his match? Is he that strong?”
Feng Xue fetched his teacup from the table. “In terms of martial prowess, it is hard to say. He is tough to deal with, nevertheless. It will be hard for you to kill him.”
“You won’t have to worry, then. I’m using poison that I spent an exorbitant sum on this time. It’s tasteless and doesn’t have a smell. As soon as it hits the mouth, you’re finished. I was saving it for that wench, but he can be my test subject before I use it on her.”
Feng Xue analysed the probability of success and then resumed drinking his tea. No reason to pick a fight with a monarch, after all.
Feng Xue’s dismissive attitude was the opposite of what Ah Neath wanted. She wanted Feng Xue to plead her not to kill Ming Feizhen so that she could use Ming Feizhen as a hostage. News of Wu Ba returning made its way to Ah Neath before she could think any further.
Wu Ba and a palace guard pushed a heavy chest into the palace.
When Ah Neath saw the question in Feng Xue’s eyes, she elucidated, “He’s my trusted aide. He’s been serving the royal family since my father’s era, and he’s trustworthy. You’re finally back, Wu Ba. Do you bring any good news?”
So jubilant to see Ah Neath again, Wu Ba said in Mandarin, “Oh, motherflipping Emperor, freaking Sun and Divine Bird, cool and suave Wu Ba has not had a chance to see you in ages, Your motherflipping Majesty.”
Feng Xue flicked up a thumb: “… You are a true hero.”
Ah Neath stamped: “That Jiang Zhouzi taught you that, didn’t he?”
“Indeed.” Wu Ba smiled naively. “Wu Ba has only learnt a drop in the bucket from Sir Jiang Zhouzi. He cannot be considered a graduate as of yet.”
As irate as she was with Ming Feizhen’s corruption of Wu Ba, Ah Neath didn’t castigate Wu Ba. “What is in that chest you brought in?”
“Ah, Your motherflipping Majesty, Wu Ba has brought to you a big present.”
Speaking through her teeth, Ah Neath ordered, “Open it.”
Baimu was out cold, but he was breathing normally, albeit barely, shocking those present.
Proudly, Wu Ba reported, “Sir Jiang Zhouzi truly is amazing. We merely travelled along the path he instructed us to, and this man fell down from the sky out of the blue. Sir Jiang Zhouzi must have foreseen it happening and easily put him away. Wu Ba dared not to pry. May Wu Ba ask where Sir Jiang Zhouzi is?”
Feng Xue, who was already laughing, completely lost it as he watched Ah Neath’s eyes and mouth stretch wide. Ah Neath could feel her cheeks burning up as she listened to Feng Xue laugh.
“Messenger! Messenger! Messenger! Messenger! I want to see you right now, or I’ll skin you!”
The messenger raced into the palace at Ah Neath’s behest.
“Bring me the prisoner put on death row just now! Call that Jiang Zhouzi, I mean, invite! Invite him back! I shall hold a banquet for him! Get going! Now! Hurry or it’ll be too late!”