He Zhan walked out of the palace gate and onto the street, followed by the eunuchs. The pedestrians on the street got out of their way in a hurry.
The further they walked on the street, the fewer pedestrians were seen on the street; it was because there was an ominous government office at the end of this street.
It was the Intelligence Bureau established by He Zhan and overseen directly by the Emperor. It was mostly He Zhan's office.
The Intelligence Bureau had several thousand secret agents. Most of them were the cavalrymen in orange clothing. And most of the high ranking officials of the bureau were personally promoted by He Zhan. The bureau could spy on the chancellors and even kings, and had the right to arrest them without the permission of the Justice Bureau. They had superior power in the imperial court.
The eunuch officials all wore low-profile black clothing, but the lieutenants of the cavalrymen, as the skilled swordsmen, wore the embroidered clothing; they were quite noticeable even in the dark night.
As He Zhan walked in the office, the eunuchs and the lieutenants of the cavalrymen all bowed to him in tandem. He came to the highest spot in the building expressionlessly, untied the overcoat and tossed it to his subordinate, and sat down in an oversized chair.
All the people present knelt down before him and said in unison, "Greetings, Your Highness."
He Zhan still didn't show any emotion. He curled up one of his fingers slightly, motioning for the crowd to get up. He then closed his eyes while holding his chin with his right hand, recuperating.
His subordinates all knew the habits of their master. They took turns to report to him about the recent happenings since last time.
"The students of the Wansong Institute have complained a great deal, and they even have communicated with the scholars in Qi State in secret. They intend to do something against the imperial court. Thirteen of their leaders have been thrown in jail."
The reporting official continued after a pause, "But the news of arresting those student leaders spread out really quickly; the students of the institute are gathering on the street. If we suppressed them forcefully, I'm afraid it would cause…"
He Zhan said with his eyes still closed, "We can't kill those students and scholars; otherwise, we would fulfill their wishes. As for how to handle it, do you really need me to teach you?"
Though his voice was rather smooth and soft, the official instantly soaked in sweat out of fear. He said in a trembling voice, "The bureau is preparing for it; but it will take some time to fabricate those correspondences. When those are ready, we will accuse those student leaders of communicating with the enemies, and later the 'volunteers' will storm their homes, either to burn down the houses or to kill their family members…"
He Zhan was displeased with the plan, as he commented, "It's still too brutal. You need to deal with it more subtly."
The official retreated while wiping off the beads of sweat from his forehead. Then another official approached the head chair and reported, "The merchants of Qi State responded rather slowly to the canal of the Yao Mountain; but it's apparent that the He and Xiao Clans have already been cautious about the project. They have sent a great amount of money to the capital, in an attempt to bribe the high ranking officials in the imperial court."
He Zhan opened his eyes, glancing over the faces of his subordinates slowly.
If the merchants of Qi State wanted to bribe the chancellors, these eunuchs of the Intelligence Bureau would be their main target. He believed that they had been bribed immensely by those merchants already.
Nobody dared lift their heads to look at He Zhan. The reporting official tried his best to suppress the fear he felt, as he said with a pale face, "We'd like to have some guidance from Your Highness regarding this matter."
"The project of constructing the canal of the Yao Mountain will proceed as planned. So you all can take the money from the Qi merchants as you wish."
He Zhan continued emotionlessly, "But they must send the thing I want as soon as possible; I'll pay them as much as they ask for. However, if they refuse to give us the information regarding the godly boat, we will spread the news that the marine merchants of Qi State humiliated the commissioner of our state; then…tell Lanyu to get on the seashore."
The official of the Intelligence Bureau suddenly felt the air cooler in the office. They thought that the merchants of Qi State could be controlled by bribing them, and they could also threaten them by killing them and their loved ones. They all knew that the Master Eunuch He was not a patient man; he would resort to assassination after one failure of bribery. It was obvious how lethal a mood he was in.
Though it was a nonexistent event that the Qi merchants humiliated the commissioner of Zhao State, Lanyu was indeed an atrocious killer, as far as Qi State or Zhao State was concerned. Even the officials of the Intelligence Bureau were wondering if Lanyu, the infamous pirate, was a guarding dog raised by the young Master Eunuch He. Yet, nobody could figure out why Master Eunuch was so interested in the information regarding the godly boat.
The third official started his report, "The Censor Chen hasn't admitted to anything yet."
"Keep on interrogating him then. Interrogate him thoroughly and carefully; but don't let him die, and don't let him live too comfortably either."
Thinking of that stubborn and uplifting master censor, He Zhan let out a mocking smile at the corners of his mouth; it was unclear whom the mocking smile was intended for.
"Speaking of him, if the officials in the imperial court were all like him, alone in the world without parents, wife and offspring, how could we govern the state effectively for the Emperor?"
The official mustered enough courage to ask, "If he divulged information about the Xihuai, what should we do next?"
The Xihuai was a famous site in the Hejian Manor.
He Zhan lifted his eyelids and glanced at the official, demanding, "Did the Hejian offer any bribery to you?"
"If this subordinate received the bribery, I wouldn't dare ask such a question. Yet…that is still a king manor."
Hearing this, all the other officials of the bureau changed their countenances slightly, thinking it was indeed a troublesome issue.
If it were a regular king manor, the Intelligence Bureau could investigate it as they wished, since they had imprisoned two County Kings and three brothers of the royal concubines such far.
But, the person in the Hejian Manor…was the future emperor of the state!
He Zhan stared at the subordinates present quietly, and declared, "In my view, I only serve the Emperor, nobody else; do you understand?"
Upon hearing this, the officials were all frightened and knelt down on the ground in tandem; nobody dared speak.
In the Royal Palace of Chu State.
Inside the coldest palace hall of all, even the starlight gave out a cold intent here.
The green bird trotted to the front of Jing Jiu. As she recalled the scenes she saw in the capital of Zhao State, she said apprehensively, "That eunuch is really weird, very frightening."
"Tell me about the Zhao Emperor," Jing Jiu said.
The green bird came back to her senses and said, "The relationship between He Zhan and the Zhao Emperor is truly complicated; but I can't understand why the Zhao Emperor could figure out the reality of this world simply from the behavior of He Zhan."
It had happened before in the Green Sky Mirror that someone cultivated to a higher state and then was killed off by the heavenly barrier; but the situation for Master Mo as well as the Zhao Emperor was rather different.
These two realized or perceived that they were in an unreal world.
The Illusionary Realm was not a real world; the winner of the world didn't actually rule a real world; and the people in the realm were not the real lives either.
If someone in this world could realize the unreality of this world, it meant that they had seen the reality, and could become the reality themselves.
She had lived in the Green Sky Mirror for tens of thousands of years, but she had never experienced such a thing.
"Like I said, you have to mull over yourself."
Jing Jiu added while looking at the green bird, "First of all, you have to find out who you are."
The green bird trotted to the edge of the teacup and stuck her head over the cup; she saw a reversed bird figure in the tea water.
A breeze blew over, rippling the tea water and making the reversed figure blurry.
The green bird turned into an icy-jade like young girl. Her translucent wings flapped gently, causing a gust of crisp and clean wind, which exuded a faint fairy aura in all the directions.
Though the people in the Royal Palace couldn't feel it, the trees covered by the snow outside the window and the birds in the nests all felt it.
The Green Girl looked into teacup one more time, and lifted her head to look at Jing Jiu. "I have always been myself," she exclaimed, rather baffled.
Jing Jiu said, "When I laid my sight on you in the small building the first time, I was certain that you were almost the real spirit of the heavenly treasure; you were just a tiny bit different from a real spirit."
The Green Girl was puzzled, as she asked, "What is the difference?"
Jing Jiu dipped his finger into the teacup and then smeared the tea water on the spot between her eyebrows, saying, "Though you are not aware of it, you are no different from a real spirit now."
The Green Girl felt the chill between her brows, and then she recalled her last meeting with the Immortal Bai.
It was on that peak top, with the snowy mountains outside and inside the railing.
She told the Immortal Bai a lie.
It was not a significant lie, nor a serious lie.
But it was the first time she lied nonetheless.
"Yes, it is since that moment that I have become a complete and real spirit of the heavenly treasure."
The Green Girl asked inquiringly while staring at Jing Jiu, "But what does it have to do with the happenings in the Green Sky Mirror?"
"The real spirit of the heavenly treasure has its own Cultivation state, and has the whole world inside themselves," Jing Jiu said.
The Green Girl was truly surprised and covered her mouth with her small hands, asking, "Really? How do you happen to know all this?"
The real spirits of the heavenly treasures in the ancient times had long ascended along with the ancient immortals, or they had died off as time passed.
No real spirit of the heavenly treasure had appeared for a great many years, so nobody knew what the real spirit of the heavenly treasure meant to the world.
The Center Sect Master didn't know anything about it; the Immortal Bai didn't know anything about it; even the Green Girl herself knew nothing about it. But Jing Jiu knew something about it.
"I met a real spirit of the heavenly treasure before; you are the second one."
Jing Jiu continued, "Once you become the real spirit of the heavenly treasure, you are automatically in the Inside World State."
The Green Girl didn't quite believe in what Jing Jiu had just said. "As I remember, the Inside World State is even higher than the Dachen State; then it means that I am a fairy lady now," she wondered.
Jing Jiu said, "You can see it that way."
The Green Girl exclaimed with widened eyes, "It's because I have become a fairy lady, so the people in the Green Sky Mirror are waking up to the reality!"
"The world in the Inside World State is the real world, not the Illusionary Realm anymore," said Jing Jiu. "As a result, the people inside that world become real human beings as well."
The Green Girl thought about it for a long moment and finally understood the idea; but she asked Jing Jiu tentatively, "I am the master of this world then, right?"
"You can comprehend it this way," Jing Jiu said. "But, your situation is rather different from the one in the Inside World State I met. Our world is mostly an empty space, but your world is a world that has existed for tens of thousands of years. According to my calculation, when the world in the Green Sky Mirror is destroyed, you will die with it. As such, you and this world have a coexistent relationship."
The Green Girl held her small fists together and remarked proudly, "I suddenly think that I am truly great. No, I'm a majestic being."
"You have thought too much of it," Jing Jiu commented.
But the Green Girl didn't heed him. "What should I do next?" she asked.
"Wait," Jing Jiu replied. "And don't let anybody else know of it."
The Green Girl said proudly, "Chaotian hasn't witnessed a fairy lady like me for a long time. Besides the weirdo in the north, I'm not afraid of anybody now."
Jing Jiu said, "A Cultivation state is not the same as fighting prowess. As you said earlier yourself, you are merely a mirror spirit, not the one who made the rules. What's more, the Fairy Book is still in here."
The Green Girl understood what he tried to convey, feeling a bit disappointed. She suddenly thought of something and asked, "What was the real spirit of the heavenly treasure you met?"
"It was a mushroom," Jing Jiu said.
"Ahhh!" the Green Girl exclaimed with widened eyes.
"Sometimes it was a grass, or a stone; it was even a monkey sometimes."
Jing Jiu added in the end, "Of course, more often than not, it was a sword."
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