After resolving Zhao Xin Ran’s marriage, Zhao Xuan recorded Zhao Bi Xuan’s scheme in his heart, but he also grew suspicious. She was buried deep in the palace, why was her reach so long? She even knew about Ji Gou Duchy’s dark secret. Even if Qi Yi Ning was pampering her, he would never talk about such a family scandal in front of an imperial concubine, so she must’ve made some contacts before entering the palace. Zhao Xuan couldn’t stand being belittled by the enemy, when Zhao Bi Xuan ignored customs to suppress his family and promote her mother, she had already violated his bottom line.
He ordered a thorough investigation of Zhao Bi Xuan, planning to cut off her sticky fingers. Just knowing that she was that man’s most beloved woman, he already couldn’t control his hatred. But when the spies sent back news, he was shocked, Zhao Bi Xuan’s backer was not Qi Yi Ning, nor was it Old Marquess Wen Yuan, it was actually Qi Jin Yu.
He still remembered the time child Qi Jin Yu snuck out of the palace and had gotten lost in the capital’s Lantern Festival carnival, Zhao Bi Xuan had brought Qi Jin Yu to him, asking him to send him back to the palace. To his knowledge, this was the only time the two met. But now, it seemed that they have always been meeting in secret. A man being so protective of a woman, even divulging royal secrets to her so she could have her revenge, their relationship was obviously not just simple friendship. Why did Qi Jin Yu approach Zhao Bi Xuan? Was it simply attraction between man and woman? Or was he using her to get to someone close to her?
Zhao Xuan suddenly wanted to see that person learn of his most beloved woman’s true face, what expression would he make?
Zhou Yun Sheng quickly granted the Gong Prince a marriage. In order to guard against any surprises, the Empress Dowager set the wedding date for March next year, but she also frequently called Luo Lan over to the palace to socialize, and didn’t forget to call over the Gong Prince, so the future couple could cultivate their feelings. The Gong Prince was extraordinarily handsome and had a noble identity, Luo Lan was naturally very happy, blushing, she strolled with him around the Imperial Garden, her eyes darting between his tall his back and the garden full of autumn chrysanthemum. Zhao Bi Xuan seemed to have self-torture tendencies, specifically choosing to ‘accidentally’ run into the two people whenever they were alone. Seeing their flirting silhouettes, her eyes would sometimes redden, and she’d rush back to Feng Yi Palace, claiming sudden sickness.
Zhou Yun Sheng had even more reason to believe that this woman was not rational when she actually took the Second Prince away from the Empress Dowager and brought him for a walk through the Imperial Garden, causing the Second Prince to come down with a high fever, falling sick for several days. When the Empress Dowager learned of this matter, she wanted to dig out her still beating heart, but Qi Jin Yu didn’t feel regret, he just showered her in more guilty affection.
While Zhou Yun Sheng was adding fuel to their adulterous fire, he stepped up on gaining control over the imperial court. Whether it was him, or the former Qi Yi Ning, they both possessed extraordinary governing talent. Because he’d slacked off for three years, the An Prince and the Gong Prince had managed to grasp some power, but it only took him a month to break down and recover that power, of course, this didn’t include the Northwest Army’s power.
Zhao Xuan could also play the servant boy, the day after he came back from the border, he willing handed over the Hufu. It made it seem like he had no attachment to power, but the whole Northwest Army were his loyal subjects, they only recognize the man, no this seal. And Zhou Yun Sheng’s own imperial edict had given the man prestige, this Hufu was now a useless lump of broken copper and rusted iron. Moreover, the man had beat down every Northwest minister, but he beheaded without killing, like a wolf driving a flock of sheep, slaughtering the plumpest ones while leaving the rest to slowly grow fatter. In this way, he earned military achievements, and because of the border’s instability, he gained long-term control over the Northwest regime, he really knew how to calculate. He even privately traded with each ministry, earning a huge profit.
The spies Zhou Yun Sheng sent couldn’t find out more information, but from these random bits of data, Zhao Xuan’s power and wealth was estimated to be no less than the Emperor’s. If he started a rebellion, Zhou Yun Sheng didn’t think he could fully suppress it, the country was bound to be split in half.
Zhou Yun Sheng gripped the Hufu and shook his head with a bitter smile, nevertheless, he had no plans to intervene in the Northwest’s political affairs.
A month later, the royal family held the annual Autumn Hunt. Zhou Yun Sheng took the roster of hundreds of officials and invited the rank four and higher officials, and the extended imperial family. Zhao Xuan was naturally invited.
“Grand General, when are we going back to the Northwest? The capital is fun, but it’s not our territory, it’s quite inconvenient to act.” A Deputy General marched his horse up to Zhao Xuan’s side, inquiring in a low voice.
“Just wait, I still have something left to do.” Zhao Xuan stared at the imperial carriage up ahead.
The Deputy General nodded, not daring to inquire further.
When they arrived at the destination, the imperial guards had already set up camp, and the crowd would take a little break before going their own ways. Although every household had a few brothers that couldn’t wait to kill each other, they were very friendly on the surface. The Gong Prince followed Zhou Yun Sheng left and right, calling out “Brother Emperor”, wanting to go deer hunting with him. Zhou Yun Sheng noticed that his eyes always lingered on Zhao Bi Xuan, who was wearing a man’s hunting uniform, and looking particularly valiant and handsome. He knew that he was fiercely missing Zhao Bi Xuan, so much so his eyes could almost spray out fire.
Zhou Yun Sheng was already planning to encourage their adultery, suddenly shouting ‘prey’, he led the imperial guards and galloped ahead, quickly leaving the slowpokes behind. Qi Jin Yu beat his horse and chased for a while, but when he noticed that Zhao Bi Xuan couldn’t keep up, he also pretended to be weak at riding, slowly stopping at the roadside. How the two enjoyed this stolen time was not worth mentioning. Zhou Yun Sheng galloped into the forest and unexpectedly came across a snow white elk, then immediately gave chase.
The forest trail gradually became overwhelmed with weeds, if they continued riding horses, hunting would become very difficult. Zhou Yun Sheng appointed two guards to watch over the horses and led Meng Kang deeper into the forest. When he reached a brook and drew his bow at the deer, a black masked man suddenly jumped down from the trees, attacking with amazing speed.
Meng Kang saw someone heading straight towards the Emperor and quickly pulled out his sword to block them, but after going a few rounds, he gradually started losing ground, and couldn’t help but panic. He knew that he was not this man’s opponent, so he immediately blew the whistle hanging around his neck, summoning the other guards. Zhou Yun Sheng stood outside the battle arena with his bow and arrow, observing the masked man’s muscle lines sketched out under his black clothes with great interest. No matter where he looked, this man’s figure was first-class, if drenched with sweat after a night of passion, Zhou Yun Sheng would eagerly lick that sweat stained, bronze skin clean, inch by inch.
That’s right, this masked man was Zhao Xuan. Forget about wearing a mask, even if he was turned to ashes, Zhou Yun Sheng would still recognize him. He wanted to see what the man thought he could accomplish by doing this, but soon he had no mood for relaxation, because Zhao Xuan’s moves were getting more and more ruthless, actually attacking Meng Kang with killing intent.
His eyes narrowing in an instant, he unsheathed the sword at his waist and kicked Meng Kang out of Zhao Xuan’s attack range, narrowly saving his life. Meng Kang was speechless, before this, he always thought that although the Emperor was trained in martial arts, his strength would certainly not be as high as these battle hardened soldiers, but the reality showed him that he was outrageously wrong. The masked man’s martial arts skill was high enough to be rare, but the Emperor faced him evenly without the slightest sign of losing ground. The two warriors collided, you strike I dodge, within a few breaths, dozens of blows were exchanged, the moves critical.
When the Emperor suddenly joined the battle, the black masked man’s killing intent instantly vanished, replaced by surprise and appreciation. He attacked and retreated, stealthily leading the Emperor deeper into the forest, according to the two’s pace, in less than a quarter hour, Meng Kang and the pursuing guards would lose their trail.
Zhou Yun Sheng didn’t believe that Zhao Xuan was trying to kill him, so even knowing that he was being isolated, he didn’t hesitate to follow.
As the surrounding trees grew larger and thicker, layers of foliage covered up the sun, making the surrounding light grow dim. Zhao Xuan suddenly increased his offensive, in one move he knocked the sword out of the Emperor’s hands, then pressed him face first against a tree trunk and bound both his wrists with a rope. He ripped off his black mask and repurposed it as a blindfold, blinding the Emperor.
“Who are you? What do you want?” Zhou Yun Sheng asked knowing the answer. He was too familiar with this blindfolding trick, instantly, many erotic scenes popped into his mind, making his throat feel dry, his body becoming compliant.
Zhao Xuan didn’t say something melodramatic like ‘to fuck you’, but he used his actions to convey his intent. He first caressed every inch of the Emperor’s jade white face, his fingers lingering over his soft lips for a moment, then he slowly pushed them into his mouth. To prevent him from suddenly biting, he used his other hand to pinch his jaw, forcing him to keep his mouth open.
A familiar taste entered his mouth, making Zhou Yun Sheng instinctively stretch out his tongue to lick, but fortunately, he regained his reason at the last moment, and started desperately shaking his head, struggling to break free.
“Behave.” Giving a hoarse order, Zhao Xuan pressed his knees into his lower back, stopping him from squirming.
“Taste.” After a brief order, he pressed down on the Emperor’s tongue, feeling out the moist silkiness of his mouth. The black mask covered half of the Emperor’s face, but his exposed half was clearly flushed glowing pink. Zhao Xuan’s breathing grew heavier, he leaned in closer to get a better look. He could imagine the man’s bright peach eyes filling with mist, there might be humiliation, anger, and surprise inside. It made him want to tease him even more, possess him.
What expression did he make when he was aroused? Would his eyes flush red? He must look very sexy. For the past few months, he could only see such a charming scene in his dreams or on paper, now that the real person was in front of him, how could he back off? What Emperor, what troubles, to hell with it all, he’d endured patiently for months, but he could no longer suppress himself.
He took out his fingers and replaced them with his lips and tongue. He licked, nibbled and nipped without restraint, his big hands fully exploring the Emperor’s curves, his actions coarse and impatient.
Zhou Yun Sheng was simply going mad, on one side he was struggling to prop himself up and stop his legs from turning into jelly, on the other side he was fuming with dark rage: Sure enough, a leopard couldn’t change its spots. This nymphomaniac, even though he has amnesia, still has lustfulness flowing through his blood. He would never be able to act like a Liuxia Hui for too long. It seems that the indifference last time was just an exercise in extreme acting skills. Who knew how long he retrained himself, like a hungry wolf allowed to endlessly chew on a bone, but not allowed to directly swallow it.
But because of these months wasted in brooding celibacy, Zhou Yun Sheng naturally couldn’t let him easily have his way, so he reached out his tongue to actively wrap around the other man’s, and while he was captivated, he used that opportunity to explode into resistance.
Zhao Xuan instantly noticed his rising leg and nimbly dodged, then once again pressed the Emperor into the tree trunk, fiercely kissing him until his lips were swollen, then reached for his belt.
“Do you know who I am?” Only God knew how much Zhou Yun Sheng wanted to fuck him already, just choking out this question already required all his will.
“I like you, what does it matter who you are?” Zhao Xuan’s tone was haughty, groping the Emperor’s vital part through his trousers, he hoarsely chuckled, “How lustful, you’re even reacting.”
“You try being kissed and groped.” Zhou Yun Sheng said through gritted teeth.
“You mean, no matter who was groping you today, you would get aroused? You really are the Uninhibited Emperor.” These words clearly must’ve poked one of Zhao Xuan’s sore spots, he pulled open the Emperor’s lapel, forcefully sucking on his shoulder, only letting go when his jade white skin glowed scarlet red, then he said in an malicious tone, “While you’re moaning under my body, do you know what your beloved imperial concubine is doing?”
“You can’t hurt her!” Only I can kill her! Zhou Yun Sheng snarled without heat. He really couldn’t stand this, he obviously wanted to roll around between the bed sheets with his lover, yet he needed to put on a grave look.
Zhao Xuan snorted and mocked, “Even in these circumstances you can’t help but care about her safety, you really are love-struck. Let me tell you, right now, Zhao Bi Xuan is just like you, writhing under someone else’s body, don’t you want to know who that person is?” He leaned in closer to lick around the Emperor’s cute, jade white ear. This man’s taste was countless times sweeter than he’d imagined, he’d only barely tasted, but he already didn’t want to ever stop.
“Who?” Zhou Yun Sheng shook his mouth off. Immediately doing whatever your heart says to do and spouting such inconsequential nonsense, how many villains have failed because they couldn’t stop blabbering? Just keep dragging it out until the guards come, you’re stabbing yourself in the foot!
Zhao Xuan didn’t care to immediately answer, he sucked on his earlobe for a few more minutes, until it turned red, before speaking again, “It’s your br—shit!” he cut off and swore softly, then quickly fixed up the Emperor’s robes, tightly covering up his perfect body before nipping his lips and hoarsely warning, “You’re not allowed to sleep with someone else during this time, otherwise, I won’t be this gentle at our next meeting.”
How were you fucking gentle? You chewed me like a piece of meat! Soon, Zhou Yun Sheng also heard the guards’ footsteps, although he felt resentful and depressed, there was a little regret. However, when he thought of how depressed this person would feel after he went back, he felt more relieved.
Seeing the tied up and blindfolded Emperor, Meng Kang and the others felt relieved. They were innumerably lucky that the Emperor was unharmed, although they might lose their small lives, at least their families were unlikely to be implicated. The group quickly cut the ropes and removed the black blindfold, just as they were about to beg forgiveness, Duke Yu Guo and his squadron of elite soldiers, having received Meng Kang’s pigeon delivered message, also arrived and kneeled in fear and trepidation.
Zhou Yun Sheng rubbed his sore eyes open and saw the perpetrator kneeling at his feet, immediately, his unvented anger rose. He grabbed one of the guards’ hoarse whips and stuck ruthlessly, baring his teeth, “Grand General Zhao, you’ve sure come out at a good time!”
The Deputy General inwardly felt wronged for his Grand General. The official hunting ground’s security was the duty of the capital’s guards and the pentapolis’ military forces, how was it the Grand General’s concern?
However, Zhao Xuan himself didn’t feel wronged. He firmly endured this person’s whippings, taking the time to sneak peeks at his expression. Seeing his eyes indeed looking especially bright, twinkling because of his anger and humiliation, and the corners of his eyes were livelily flushed, he looked countless times more beautiful than he’d imagined. Forget about bearing a few lashes, if he could get this person, he was even willing to give up his life.
Secretly swallowing a mouthful of saliva, Zhao Xuan thought about the day he would be able to remove the blindfolds, pinch this person’s jaw, and come face to face with him. Feeling his lower body reacting, Zhao Xuan immediately pushed out his internal force to suppress it, but unexpectedly made the Emperor’s whip snap in half.
The high ranking officers saw the whip break and were even more convinced that the Emperor was hitting too heavily, their hearts feeling more and more wronged.
Zhou Yun Sheng knew that these whips were nothing more than tickles for his lover, the man not only wouldn’t feel pain, he was pretty sure he’d enjoy it. Having no choice but to pull back, he ordered, “Search the mountains, you must capture that bandit alive!”
Zhao Xuan cupped his hands and promised, but before he could stand up, another row of soldiers hurriedly trotted over, reporting that the Gong Prince and Hui Yi Imperial Consort were attacked by an assassin.
“How is the Imperial Consort? Is she injured?” Zhou Yun Sheng anxiously asked, the perfect image of a man who loved his wife more than his own life.
Zhao Xuan quickly glanced at him, his raging lust replaced by hostility. It seemed that he refused to believe him. But that was reasonable, who would easily believe what a person of unknown origins told them? Next time, he needed to give him a profound lecture.
Zhou Yun Sheng rushed back to the camp, from a distance, he saw imperial guards surrounding Zhao Bi Xuan and Qi Jin Yu’s tent, and there were several imperial physicians going in and out, their expressions very grave. He walked over and asked about the situation, learning that Zhao Bi Xuan was unharmed, but Qi Jin Yu was stabbed a few times, and his situation was very critical.
“You must treat him with the greatest extent of your abilities.” Zhou Yun Sheng directed the imperial physicians, then sent a report to the Empress Dowager in the palace. The Empress Dowager immediately wanted to bring Qi Jin Yu back, but the physicians stopped it, saying that the injuries were too heavy for movement, they needed to wait at least ten days to a fortnight.
Zhou Yun Sheng accompanied Qi Jin Yu in the hunting grounds for a few days, putting on a caring older brother appearance. Afterwards, he led the crowd back to the capital, using the travel time to thoroughly enjoy Zhao Bi Xuan’s agonizing and fearful expression. As for those assassins, they actually were not caught. They were all high-level martial artists, well trained, and they’d fled to a cliff side and leapt, destroying their trails. The pentapolis army and the capital guards’ commanders sent thousands of troops to search under the cliff, stunned to not even find a piece of cloth, like the assassins had disappeared into thin air.
Not only was the Gong Prince attacked by an assassin, even the Emperor was almost harmed, the capital guards and the pentapolis army commanders responsible for the capital’s defense were thoroughly purged by the furious Emperor, some high ranking officials were imprisoned, some were dismissed, and some were demoted, they would be in a pitiful state for a long time. A little while after the storm calmed, the important duties of these officials were all handed over to the Emperor’s confidants. Meng Kang was promoted by leaps and bounds, becoming a pentapolis army commander. It was not a high official position, but the power was quite real.
The Empress Dowager, who’d had quite a lot of staff placed in these positions, could only watch helplessly. The perfect strategy they thought they’d worked out over the past few years unexpectedly failed overnight. Now, she had good reason to suspect that this assassination attempt was Qi Yi Ning’s self-orchestrated drama.
The Empress Dowager’s guess was correct, the assassins were indeed sent by Zhou Yun Sheng, but he had no delusions of being able to kill the cheating couple. Because the two were the children of fate, they always had an inexplicable protective force around them, commonly called plot armor. Unless they themselves courted death, it would be difficult for outsiders to successfully kill them. Like in the last world, Xue Jing Yi was clearly so sickly, but she withstood all of his serious provocations, and continuously recovered to a more stable health. From this, it’s obvious that if they didn’t want to die, no one could take the protagonists out.
Sure enough, those assassins only succeeded in seriously injuring Qi Jin Yu, failing to take his life, and because of his desperate protection, Zhao Bi Xuan was unscathed. But never mind, his aim was to gain control over the capital and the surrounding areas’ defensives, he was not at all eager to take the two’s insignificant lives. Dying like that would be too comfortable.
The Empress Dowager was informed that her son was seriously injured trying to protect Zhao Bi Xuan, and was angry enough to almost vomit blood. She immediately called her to the Ci Ning Palace to kneel in punishment. Zhao Bi Xuan thought that the Emperor would hurry over to help her out like in the past, but was ultimately disappointed. She knelt for a full day and night, but the man never appeared.
Zhou Yun Sheng had no free time to care about Zhao Bi Xuan’s discomfort, he’d appointed Zhao Xuan to investigate the assassination attempt on the same day, but it was now four days later, and he hadn’t found even a slight trace, he naturally had to call the man over to thoroughly ‘rebuke’ him.
Zhao Xuan walked through the palace entrance and heard the Emperor conversing with Meng Kang from outside the palace hall.
“You turned eighteen this year, you can be considered an adult, have you thought about marriage matters?”
“Replying to the Emperor, three days ago, this small official’s step mother arranged a marriage for this small official.”
“Oh? Who is this young lady?”
“She’s an official from the Ministry of Works, Master Lang Zhang’s, second daughter, but she’s also this small official’s step mother’s niece.”
“Rejected.” The Emperor unhesitatingly ordered.
“Ah?” Meng Kang’s slack-jawed response.
“Rejected, only I can deicide your marriage.”
Hearing this, Zhao Xuan’s chest was already filled with anger. He originally thought that this person was exploiting Meng Kang, but after so many weeks, how could he not notice that he was sincerely protecting Meng Kang? From the start, he never planned to have Meng Kang usurp the Northwest, he’d always planned to keep him at his side and cultivate him. Even all the assignments he gave Meng Kang were in harmony with his temperament.
Being a pentapolis army commander didn’t require much ability, just be ruthless enough, straightforward enough, and bold enough, not afraid to offend people. Meng Kang possessed all these qualities, and with the Emperor’s trust, his future would inevitably be secure.
Why was he so concerned with Meng Kang? Next time, he’d be sure to ask clearly. Zhao Xuan pushed down the anger in his heart, raising his hand to let the newly appointed High Eunuch announce his presence. Trying to protect the Gong Prince from the assassins, Liu He died at the hunting grounds, and he died by beheading, unable to even leave an intact corpse behind. The Emperor ordered him to be properly buried, and appointed his apprentice, Lin Ann, to his position.
Because of this assassination attempt, those who should die died, what needed to be removed was removed, and what needed to make room made room. Zhao Xuan clearly saw through all this mysterious engineering, so he never intended to thoroughly investigate, restraining his abilities until the Emperor summoned him, running over to the Yang Xin Palace in an almost giddy mood.
“Reporting to the Emperor, Master Duke Yu Gou is seeking an interview.”
“Let him in. Go on Meng Kang, you don’t have to worry about your marriage, I will certainly help you find a good partner.”
“Thank you for your grace Your Majesty, this small official will return home to tell mother.” Meng Kang had also been unsatisfied with the marriage, but because of his parents’ order, he’d had no choice but to comply. Now that the Emperor vetoed it, he was naturally very happy. He gave Grand General Zhao an almost mouth splitting grin as he passed by, but received the other’s cold as ice glare in return, and couldn’t help but shudder.
Zhao Xuan walked into the palace hall and saluted, but when he lifted his eyes for a quick glance over the throne, his jaw clenched for a moment. This person had just finished taking a bath, his long black, silk-like hair draped loosely over his shoulders, still damp. He was wearing a loose, pure black gown, which set off his, as if cut and polished from jade, brilliant eyes. There was even the faint scent of ambergris wafting from his skin, invigorating.
He met Meng Kang with such an unguarded appearance? Zhao Xian was resenting that he couldn’t return to the hunting party day and stab this kid.
Zhou Yun Sheng was tossed from side to side by this person last time, this time he called him over, it’s only natural that he wouldn’t let him have it easy. He once again raged and rebuked, smashing a cup, displaying his full, awe-inspiring might.
Zhao Xuan gradually calmed down under his scolding, hearing his parched throat, he stood up and poured him a cup of hot tea, then continued kneeling, secretly thinking: I’ll let you run free for now, next time I catch you, I must make your beautiful eyes sparkle with tears.
When he thought of how depressed etc. –但想到這人回去以後不知該如何憋悶- Unsure of translation.
Pentapolis- 五城- Wu Cheng- five cities/city walls. I couldn’t get a definition in English, but I think the capital is divided into five districts, which have their own armies.