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Book 15: Chapter 2
A Mysterious Eighteen Years
Ming Feizhen alternated between using Spring Wind Rainy Night to raise the walls, Tai Chi to return things to their original spots and Yijin Jing to fix items in place without taking any breaks. He wasn’t being ridiculously demanding when he only gave Zero an hour to restore the zone as he still had to wake up all the examinees afterwards to create a false impression that only a short while had pa.s.sed by, so they’d have enough time to finish their papers.
Ming Feizhen wasn’t heartless. He already helped the examinees deal with the corrupt examiners, so why wouldn’t he help them a second time? Why let a delusional monk waste the a.s.siduous efforts of the young dreamers? Plus, he hadn’t had the time to copy the paper He s.h.i.+ promised to write for him! If all the boasting didn’t match up with his performance, it was obvious how His Majesty would react. Was that a mistake he could afford to make?
At the same time Ming Feizhen was busy restoring Taishu Hall, the fires outside the imperial city had somehow ceased. Long Zaitian’s group did several laps of the city and were unable to find any new fires – thankfully.
“b.l.o.o.d.y p.r.i.c.ks, p.i.s.sing off after they’ve had their fun. What do they think the capital is? I’m skinning the lot of you once I catch you,” cursed Long Zaitian, from atop his steed. Long Zaitian expected the enemies to go into hiding and waiting for a better opportunity to escape. Hence, he ordered his subordinates to arrest anyone suspicious regardless of who they were.
Out of consideration of his ident.i.ty, Song Ou had Zha Pi take care of the officials, planning to visit them afterwards when things had calmed down. When he started paying them visits, all of them greeted him brightly and welcomed him as an honoured guest. Little did he know Zha Pi had accepted bribes, but he realised he’d be harshly punished if any of Ming Feizhen’s clique found out. Consequently, Zha Pi switched up and said he had evidence against over forty officials for acts of bribery. The framed officials begged him to not report them, so what were they meant to do when Song Ou showed up?
Zero entered the palace as Tianhu and told the guards on duty that there were indeed intruders; however, he had made short work of them. Additionally, he told them that he’d guard Taishu Hall for the night, so there was no need to a.s.sign guards there. Since his master was busy at Taishu Hall, he chose to go the person he believed would’ve most likely chosen to enter the palace at this point in time. As he expected, he saw the man who vouched for him to become Tianhu.
Upon spotting Zero outside the city, Ye Yun asked, “Was it you or him who killed the intruders?”
Ye Yun had been able to tell what happened without being there in person too many times for Zero to be surprised. That being said, the man who still had his hostility cloaking him zipped over to Ye Yun. “If you refer to him in that tone again, I a.s.sure you that it’ll be me who kills you.”
Ye Yun grinned. “There are still twelve more years before you can kill me.”
“Why else do you think you’re still alive?”
Zero’s lack of emotion when communicating with him made Zero the easiest person for Ye Yun to communicate with.
“Why don’t you answer the question, then? It’ll save both of us time.” Ye Yun did away with his grin. “Has he recovered?”
“Our agreement included a condition that I’d never do anything that endangered him. Have you forgotten?”
“Just asking. Since you don’t want to talk about it, then it must mean it really was him who killed the freak.”
Zero thought he wouldn’t think about his former subordinate again until Ye Yun mentioned him. That said, the extra time to think reminded him that he owed Ming Feizhen yet again for cleaning up a loose end he didn’t clean up. Smiling warmly, he responded, “It makes no difference who killed him. You know he wouldn’t harm the imperial court. To the contrary, he has helped you on many occasions. Had he not entered the depths of Nieyao City to face the dragon alone, whether or not your Emperor would still be alive would be unanswered. Who would’ve stopped the calamity if not him? You?”
“I have always respected the beast slayers from the bottom of my heart and possibly only less than His Majesty by a smidge. None of them covet wealth, fame or power to protect the future. In saying that, as the commander of Emperor’s Entourage, I can only give one man my loyalty, and that is His Majesty.” Meeting with Zero’s cold gaze, Ye Yun chuckled. “Don’t worry. I can tell he harbours no ill will from my observations. Do you think I would’ve let him approach His Majesty otherwise? Sometimes, I get curious, though, about what your master’s goal is. What’s so bad about retiring to a reclusive life in the mountains? Why get involved with the b.l.o.o.d.y world again?”
“What’s the point of living in the mountains if your mind isn’t at peace? How is living in a bustling city with a blemished heart any different to living a reclusive life? Only Master knows what he’s thinking. All I know is that, if the Emperor and Master are in trouble, I’ll abandon our agreement without hesitation.”
“Putting your master in trouble isn’t that much easier to reaching heaven, is it? That being the case, fulfil your role as Tianhu while Emperor’s Entourage develops for another twelve years, deal?”
Zero was always one to honour his word. “If you’re here, who’s taking care of Bai Ju? Do you genuinely think he’s a pushover, or is your Prime Minister secretly an elite fighter?”
Ye Yun smirked. “Who’d underestimate Bai Ju? With that said, isn’t Prime Minister Li always being bodyguarded?”