Few people in Chu State had seen the Emperor who had been living reclusively in the
Royal Palace for thirty years. All of the officials and the soldiers involved in searching
the Grand Scholar Manor that day hadn't seen the Emperor in person. Seeing the man
walking out of the room of the wife of the Grand Scholar Zhang, they were all stunned,
wondering if this person was a madman.
The Minister Jin had more experience than anybody else present. He became an official
of the imperial court when he was young. He was lucky enough to see the Emperor
twenty years ago at the crowning ceremony. The Emperor was a youth of ten years at
the time. He should be thirty years old now, a middle-aged man. But why did he still look
so handsome, with not a change in his looks after parting the black hair from his face?
The Emperor suddenly appeared in the Grand Scholar Manor with looks same as when
last the Minister Jin had seen him; it was then, right then and there, that the scheme
was destroyed. All this bore down on the Minister Jin like a thunder; he knelt down
reflexively, murmuring, "Your Majesty, you…"
By then the officials and the soldiers realized who this man really was, shocked
speechless and kneeling down on the ground in tandem.
The old wife of the Grand Scholar Zhang came out from the room with the aid of a cane.
It happened that she had just witnessed the scene in which all the people in the manor
were kneeling like the receding tide.
Jing Jiu turned to the old lady and said, "Like I promised him, as long as I'm still the
Emperor, I guarantee that your family will be safe and prosperous."
Upon hearing this, the old lady was even more overwhelmed; she knelt down
tremblingly, claiming, "Thank Your Majesty for pitying us."
It was deathly quiet for a while in the Grand Scholar Manor, and then a barrage of
weeping burst out abruptly.
It was the offspring of Grand Scholar Zhang and the caretakers and maidservants of the
Grand Scholar Manor who were crying.
As the imperial court came to the manor to search the house that day, many people in
the Grand Scholar Manor had already cried; but they cried due to the resentment and
fear at the time. Now they were crying due to overjoy and relief after surviving the
Among the crimes compiled by the imperial court for the Grand Scholar Zhang, the most
deadly was the crime of locking up the Emperor in the Cold Palace, a rebellious offense.
However, the Emperor came to the Grand Scholar Manor in person that day and made
a royal conclusion of the case; who would dare say anything different?
Hearing the statement while kneeling on the ground, Minister Jin had a change of heart.
He finally regained his senses.
If he let the situation develop along this line, all the efforts he and the chancellors of the
imperial court had made would come to nothing; he couldn't let it happen.
Even if the Emperor was not slow, he wouldn't know any of the chancellors since he
had been locked up in the palace hall for over twenty years. What power did he
possess? What could happen to him if the Emperor was dead today?
The Minister Jin stood up swiftly, encouraged by his ambition and greed.
He stared into Jing Jiu's eyes and was about to yell out the words: He was the fake
He dared pretend to be the Emperor. This was a crime worth being sentenced to death
by slicing the flesh one bit at a time; so it was not inappropriate to hack him to death
with the swords.
The Grand Scholar Manor dared let someone pretend to be Emperor in order to evade
their crime of keeping a royal robe in the manor, which was often worn by the Grand
Scholar Zhang himself; it would not be inappropriate, then, to slaughter everybody in the
In a very short time, the Minister Jin thought of many things, and many scenes flashed
in front of his eyes, all of them covered in blood.
In the next moment, he found that he couldn't make a sound.
Hundreds of officials and soldiers kneeling on the ground looked at him with a strange
The Minister Jin had his mouth open wide, with a terrified expression on his face.
All he could hear right now was his own heart beats.
Dong!!! Dong!!!! Dong!!! Dong!!!
His heart-beat sped up, and then throbbed like a drum, as if it would jump out from his
The heart-beat went even faster now!
An indescribable pain started from his heart and then spread slowly to the rest of his
If he could make a sound right now, it would be a dreadful bawl like a wounded wild
animal would do. But he couldn't make a sound. All he could do was looking at Jing Jiu
with a horrified expression.
Seeing the Emperor's eyes that were as deep as the ocean, the Minister Jin suddenly
realized many things. He understood why his Teacher didn't dare take over the throne,
why the Emperor had locked himself up in the palace hall, why the son of King Jing died
after complying to the decree and coming to the capital, and why the fire in the Royal
Palace didn't start…
Unfortunately, he understood all this too late. He started coughing painfully due to the
tremendous regret, despair and fear.
The blood sprayed out from his mouth like the mist.
A barrage of screams burst out.
The Minister Jin kept on coughing with his body bent low, looking like a boiled shrimp.
He continued spitting out the blood, and even some shredded flesh in the end.
Jing Jiu took a black hair band from the hand of the wife of the Grand Scholar Zhang to
tie up his hair behind his head. Then he walked past the Minister Jin, heading for the
outside of the Grand Scholar Manor, not even taking a glance at him.
The wife of the Grand Scholar Zhang saw Jing Jiu off reverentially, supporting herself
with a cane. As she passed by the Minister Jin, she spat in his face.
The spit, like a hammer, knocked the Minister Jin onto the ground. He stopped
breathing after twitching twice painfully.
On the same night, all the chancellors in Chu State who were qualified to participate in
the court meeting were informed of the court meeting the following day.
In fact, the Royal Palace merely sent out a eunuch to inform the Grand Scholar Chen.
It was evident that the Emperor who hadn't gone out of the palace in over twenty years
didn't have that many people he could use as messengers.
However, this fact couldn't make the officials receiving the message feel relieved; it was
because the news regarding what had happened at the Grand Scholar Manor had
spread throughout the capital.
Before dawn, many carriages appeared on the road leading to the Royal Palace. Some
officials were instructing the caretakers of their own manors.
They were not telling the caretakers of their last words, but told them to prepare for the
possible earth-shattering change that day.
Fewer chancellors were willing to be captured and killed by the Emperor; it was
because the power of the emperor was negligible in the last twenty years in Chu State.
The palace door opened slowly. The officials eyed each other, stopped conversing
among themselves, and entered the grand hall one after the other. Then they followed
the routine to stand in two lines on the opposite sides in the hall.
Nobody liked attending the meeting, but it was a necessary procedure to govern the
state. As such, the court meetings had never been suspended; it was only that the
Emperor had never attended the court meeting for many years.
Some chancellors could still remember the last time the Emperor attended the court
meeting, which was right after the crowning ceremony. Some officials with good
memory could remember that some officials petitioned to impeach the Grand Scholar
Zhang during that court meeting; but the Emperor came to the meeting and said, "The
Grand Scholar Zhang is doing a good job. Nobody should make a fuss again."
Would the happenings after the death of the Grand Scholar Zhang be counted as the
fuss in the Emperor's eyes? And what fuss would the Emperor make then?
Seeing the man sitting on the throne and wearing the brightly yellow robe, many
chancellors generated a myriad of thoughts. Then they were fascinated by his extremely
handsome appearance, feeling startled. They wondered why a man could look so
beautiful; he had merely tied his black hair behind his head carelessly, but why did he
display the bearing of a fairy immortal?
It was evident that Jing Jiu didn't pay any heed to what these chancellors were thinking
about him. "Let's begin," he declared.
A young eunuch glanced at the name list in his hand nervously, and was about to open
his mouth to speak.
It was just then that the Grand Scholar Chen suddenly approached the throne and
bowed to Jing Jiu, as he said, "Your Majesty, this chancellor has something important to
Jing Jiu took a look at this person and didn't say anything.
The Grand Scholar Chen said, "The Minister Jin went to the Grand Scholar Zhang
Manor yesterday based on the royal decree. But how come Your Majesty showed up
there? And why did the Minister Jin die suddenly?"
He asked these questions in a rude manner; and the more inappropriate part was that
he stared into Jing Jiu's eyes while asking those questions, devoid of any reverence he
should pay to the Emperor.
The Grand Scholar Chen intended to discover something in Jing Jiu's eyes by staring
into his eyes.
The Emperor appeared unexpectedly at the Grand Scholar Zhang Manor the day
before, and Jin Cheng died suddenly there. After the initial shock, the Grand Scholar
Chen finally recalled a secretive rumor.
The Grand Scholar Zhang didn't dare overthrow the Emperor, because he knew that the
Emperor had been cultivating and making the magic pills.
The Grand Scholar Chen wanted to find out whether the rumor was true or false in
today's court meeting. Nonetheless, he had prepared sufficiently for the consequence
no matter what answer he would get.
Even if the Emperor was a Cultivation practitioner of a high state, he still couldn't
change the political situation in Chu State.
Jing Jiu wouldn't bother answering his questions of course.
The young eunuch, however, was pretty smart. He did his best to hold back his
nervousness and scolded, "Based on the royal decree? Since the Emperor didn't issue
the decree, whose decree did you follow?"
The young eunuch's voice had a high pitch; and due to his nervousness, it sounded a
bit croaky, like a young rooster trying to make a sound while being choked in the neck; it
The terrible voice echoed in the huge grand hall. The Grand Scholar Chen was taken
aback slightly, not knowing how to reply.
Yet, Jing Jiu had no intention of letting such a boring procedure keep going. "The Grand
Scholar Zhang was someone selected by this emperor. Any attempt of defaming him is
to offend this emperor," he claimed while staring at the officials in the palace hall.
This statement was very coarse, devoid of any deep meaning, which was quite different
from the statements usually made in the imperial court; it was more like the statement
made by a swordsman in his own circle.
Hearing this, the chancellors felt it quite laughable, rather than felt intimidated; some of
the officials had actually laughed out.
Jing Jiu didn't heed them, as he continued, "…it's a crime deserving the death penalty
for the whole family."
He spoke softly; there was no obvious lethal intent in his voice. Rather than like the
thunder, the words were more like the gentle wind blowing over; but everybody in the
hall somehow sensed a great deal of chill in their hearts.
The young eunuch took two steps forward while holding the name list. He swallowed
nervously and then started reading the names. The officials who were named were
asked to step forward. There were only seven or eight officials whose names were
called. They showed a bewildered expression on their faces. Those officials who were
not called felt perplexed as well, wondering what was going on.
Thinking of what he was to say next, the young eunuch grew even more nervous; his
voice became even hoarser.
He wasn't an outstanding person in the Royal Palace. It was only that he yelled out
bravely a few nights ago when he got out of bed to go to washroom and found a few
dark figures sneaking into the grand hall and intending to start a fire there.
After the yelling, he thought he would die soon; but he didn't die, and the fire didn't start
either. As a result, he became the trusted eunuch of the Emperor's.
It was also possible that the young eunuch was the only person the Emperor knew in
the Royal Palace. Thinking of these matters, the young eunuch's nervousness was
somewhat eased. He cleared his throat and announced to the chancellors in the hall,
"The officials whose names were called are innocent; the rest are guilty…"
Before the young eunuch could finish the announcement, he was cut off.
There was an uproar in the palace hall. Seeing Jing Jiu on the throne, the chancellors
were full of shocked expressions in their eyes, musing that the change of the dynasty
was finally coming.
They thought that the Emperor had nobody to back him back. He didn't have any
chancellor on his side, nor the army or royal guard; even the eunuch he could rely on
was merely a little kid. Did he intend to wipe out most of the high ranking officials of Chu
State? Where did he get the crazy idea? Was the rumor true that the Emperor was
either a retard or a madman?
"Does the Emperor intend to rule the world merely by the means of the royal seal?"
The Grand Scholar Chen couldn't help but laugh out loud. Watching Jing Jiu on the
throne, the look on his face was full of pity. "The residents in the capital and other
counties, the officials, the generals and soldiers, the scholars, and the populace are all
wise; it's impossible for them to listen to you. Even if you can persuade a few royal
guards, you still can't…" he claimed.
He paused at this point. He didn't finish his conjecture, but the mocking intent on his
face was evident.
A general sneered, "Even if you can keep us in the Royal Palace for a while, what use
does it have?"
It was true. Even if Jing Jiu had sealed off the Royal Palace, he still couldn't keep the
chancellors here in the Royal Palace for a prolonged time period to force them to accept
These officials had already had the preparations before entering the palace. Once they
were kept in the Royal Palace for an unusually long time, the caretakers and the guards
of various manors would take actions; and the army barracks on the outskirts of the
capital would enter the city.
It would be a simple choice for the royal army to make between a retarded emperor and
the entire imperial court.
When the attack began, how long could the Royal Palace withstand? Once the palace
was broken through, how would the Emperor deal with the consequence?
The Grand Scholar Chen stared at Jing Jiu's eyes quietly, waiting for his answer.
Jing Jiu said, "I have never thought to trap you here."
As he said this, the palace door suddenly closed. The shadow fell on everybody's body
as well as their minds.
Since the young eunuch had been warned beforehand, he led the named officials, while
holding the name list in his chest, hiding behind the throne.
It was rather gloomy inside the palace hall; but the sunlight was quite bright outside.
Leaning against the front door of the palace hall, Zhuo Rusui squinted to look at the
rising morning sun, exuding a lazy intent throughout his body.
Standing by his side, the eldest son of the Grand Scholar Zhang asked with a pale face,
"Is this arrangement enough?"
"What else then?" Zhuo Rusui said with the drooping eyelids, "The name list was
provided by you. If something were wrong with it, it would be totally your fault."
The eldest son of the Grand Scholar Zhang was quite agitated, as he exclaimed, "I
didn't talk about the name list. I talked about the Emperor in the palace hall!"
All of a sudden, a dreadful cry burst out in the palace hall; then the sounds of a sharp
instrument cutting the skin and flesh could be heard inside the hall.
Though the eldest son of the Grand Scholar Zhang couldn't see what was going on in
the hall, he could imagine what was happening there. He was so nervous that he almost
felt like throwing up; however, he hadn't eaten any food earlier, so he couldn't throw up
It was then that a thud was heard on the palace door on the other side, followed by the
faint voices pleading for help. It should be those chancellors who wanted to escape from
the hall by smashing into the door.
The eldest son of the Grand Scholar Zhang hurried to push against the palace door with
his shoulders without regard of his nausea at the moment. He was sweating as heavily
as the rainfall, panic written all over his face.
Seeing him act in such a disgraceful manner, Zhuo Rusui was quite pleased, as he
commented, "Very good. It's the time to show your loyalty. You should know that you
had tried to assassinate the Emperor. You father sent you to the south to evade the
consequence that the Emperor might sentence you to death. Your emperor is very
vindictive, you know. If you didn't do something for him this time, he might recall what
you had done before and decide to kill you."
At such a critical moment, the eldest son of the Grand Scholar Zhang couldn't possibly
hear what Zhuo Rusui was talking about; all he cared about was pushing against the
door of the palace hall with all of his strength.
A streak of blood plastered on the door, which caused his heart to skip a beat. "Why
don't you go in to help already?" he yelled at Zhuo Rusui like a madman.
In his eyes, the man in black was the strongest swordsman and assassin in the world;
even if he couldn't help the Emperor kill all of those rebellious chancellors, he could at
least rescue the Emperor.
"We don't need to worry about him," Zhuo Rusui remarked offhandedly.
The eldest son of the Grand Scholar Zhang misunderstood his meaning. He became
excited, as he asked, "How many royal guards are there inside the hall? And have you
invited many highly achieved Cultivation practitioners to help out?!"
"He is there by himself," Zhuo Rusui said. But he didn't realize that these words made
the eldest son of the Grand Scholar Zhang even paler. Zhuo Rusui waved his hand to
motion for several eunuchs not far from him to come over and said to them, "You guys
go fetch some water. Remember, get as much water as possible; otherwise, it would be
hard to clean when the blood has dried."
Neither Zhuo Rusui nor the eldest son of the Grand Scholar Zhang understood why
these eunuchs were so brave as to dare stay around.
The eunuchs said with a flattering smile, "Rest assured, Masters. We have done this a
few times already."
The sounds died down inside the hall a short time later. The quietness in the hall was
The eldest son of the Grand Scholar Zhang tried to look inside with a fearful expression;
but he couldn't see anything. His shoulders moved away from the door of the palace
The door of the palace hall opened slowly, as Jing Jiu strolled out.
His hair was loose, covering his face. And he was covered in the blood, his face pale as
he held a heaving sword in his right hand.
The eldest son of the Grand Scholar Zhang knelt down hastily, not daring to raise his
head to look at Jing Jiu.
"Tell your mother," Jing Jiu said while gazing at the distance, "this hair band is not
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