The Xia Emperor was dead. He died atop his dragon throne with a maddened smile still plastered over his lips. Even in death, this Emperor regretted nothing.
The vast emptiness of Revelations descended into a deafening silence. No one entered and all that remained outside the grand hall was the silent body of Qing Wuheng. As she laid there, court dress stained a bright red, she seemed almost like a rose blooming under the moonlight.
The pair who plotted against each other in life, ended up as companions for that last leg in life, such an irony and yet such a tragedy as well.
The Xia Emperor knew martial arts. That was a scenario only made possible because the palace held a treasure that could mask the heavenly signs. It was this treasure that masked the signs of that old eunuch breaking through into the Xiantian and also masked the fact that the Xia Emperor knew martial arts.
Yet, the Xia Emperor was no expert in the martial path. Years of laborious governance and sleepless nights had caused his body to reach its limits long ago and his cultivation to regress rather than improve.
Xia Rui was, without a doubt, the most diligent Emperor in the thousand years history of Grand Xia. Because of his paranoia, every matter had to be decided by him, no matter how big or small it was.
The Xia Rui of late could only be described as tragic. The pressure of not wanting to be labelled an inept Emperor, compounded his paranoia, ended up turning him into a despot.
In this thousand years dynasty, such a thing had never happened before till Xia Rui. The fact that his reign ended now was a blessing as well as a misfortune.
This paranoid Emperor never lacked the protection of an expert at all times. Not only did he have the formidable Eunuch Pei by his side, he had three other shadow dragon commanders beside him as well. With that many experts, no one could ever succeed in an assassination attempt. And yet today, all four of them weren’t at his side.
Qing Wuheng was the mistress of the Western Palace so other than the direct descendants of the Xia Emperor, no one dared to hinder her nor did they have a reason to.
Who would have ever thought the Imperial Concubine, Concubine Wan, was actually a hidden chess piece of the Lady Strategist. The only mistake Qing Wuheng ever made was to wrongfully discount the possibility that the Xia Emperor knew martial arts. One mistake, that was all it took for this beautiful flower to wither forever.
As for whether or not Fan Lingyue predicted such an outcome, no one would ever know.
As the cold winds blew, they brought with them a faint coldness that made the halls of Revelations that much chillier.
In the spring of this year, the Xia Emperor passed away!
Within the Imperial City, the battle was raging on as the radiant flames burned into the night sky. A wizened hand reached forth, seemingly blotting out the sky as it did so, and forced the teen who had already used up most of his energy by now into a corner.
Life or death was about to be decided in this very instant. Still tied to Ning Chen’s back, little Ming Yue shut her eyes in despair.
And yet it was at that moment that a ray of blue and a ray of red pierced through the horizons and blasted onto the scene in the blink of an eye.
With a resounding shing, the twin swords rushed at the old eunuch’s hands and deflected that deadly palm strike.
On the other side, the Eldest Prince arrived on the scene as well and with majestic Qi roaring, deflected the incoming blade and halberd before promptly carrying Ning Chen out of the battlefield.
Filled with gratitude, Ning Chen immediately tried to thank the prince but before those words even left his mouth, his body shuddered once more and with a pained grunt, spat out a mouthful of fresh blood.
With his True Qi completely spent, there was nothing left to suppress the multitude of internal injuries within him and that resulted in them finally bursting forth.
This sudden change left the four of them stunned for a moment but just as they were about to attack once more, Eunuch Pei abruptly halted midway, face paling in that instant.
Kicking off with his feet, Eunuch Pei transformed into a ray of light and rushed off towards the palace. Just then, he clearly felt that His Majesty was in trouble!
As for the three shadow dragons, they knew not the reason for his sudden departure and as they gazed at each other, they had all that same look of shock and confusion.
“Let’s end this battle for now, you all may leave.”
It was a calm declaration that came from the blue shirt figure slowly walking towards the battlefield. At that same moment, the twin swords stabbed into the ground started to shake and immediately flew off towards the newcomer.
“Prince Yan!” The three shadow dragons narrowed their eyes in fear.
Ever since the day the prince fought his way out of the Imperial Palace, they had never once forgotten how strong the Legend of Grand Xia was.
After that fight with the prince, they even began to harbor lingering suspicions that the Legend of Grand Xia had already stepped into the realm of the Xiantian.
“Retreat!” The head commander decisively ordered their retreat in a solemn voice.
There was no chance of them winning now. After all, with Prince Yan here, there was no way he would allow them to finish their mission.
The other two commanders nodded their heads and in a flash, disappeared into the night.
With the three of them gone, Xia Ziyi turned to face the man in front of him and respectfully bowed: “Third Imperial Uncle.”
“Mhm.” Prince Yan nodded in response before walking up to Ning Chen. Gathering his essence into his palms, he injected his vast True Qi into the teen and suppressed the injuries within.
At the same time, Ning Chen closed his eyes in quiet meditation and activated the Scroll of Life within him. Using the influx of the prince’s True Qi, he gradually calmed the roiling blood within him.
“Third Imperial Uncle, teacher is still waiting for Ziyi’s report so he bids his farewell for now.”
Now that Ning Chen’s life was safe, Xia Ziyi said his farewell with cupped fists after which he promptly turned to leave.
Hearing that, Ning Chen gently opened his eyes and watched the prince slowly walk off into the distance with a deeply conflicted look in his eyes that was hard to enunciate. This was the first time he saw the Eldest Prince of Grand Xia and yet he couldn’t help but sigh, the Eldest Prince was truly different from his father.
The Xia Emperor’s ruthlessness and the prince’s benevolence and righteous seemed almost like the two extremes of a scale.
“Ziyi isn’t bad, but he’s not suited to be an Emperor.” Prince Yan blandly stated.
Ning Chen naturally had no rebuttal for that; the senior’s words were true after all. To be a monarch, one had to be benevolent and ruthless at the same time, both were indispensible. The Eldest Prince was truly unfit as a monarch. Of course, the Xia Emperor was even less fit to be one.
“Let’s go, we can return to my manor for now.”
As he said that, Prince Yan waved his hand and his sword rack appeared before Ning Chen.
Not wasting anymore time on words, Ning Chen strapped the sword rack to his back and followed the man.
Still laying flat on the teen’s back, little Ming Yue curiously fiddled with the new occupant but didn’t manage to draw out a sword in the end.
“Ming Yue, don’t be naughty.”
Hearing that, the little girl withdrew her hands and gave an embarrassed smile.
“Senior, I hope you will keep this a secret.” As he said that, his voice held a pleading tone within it.
“Mhm.” Replied the prince without turning around.
Throughout all that, little Ming Yue still had a look of confusion plastered all over her face. Clearly, she didn’t understand a word they said.
At that, Ning Chen merely ruffled her cloth hat gently and said no more.
The moment little Ming Yue touched the sword rack, the fact that she was a girl was no longer a secret. In this entire world, Prince Yan was one of the few people who could sense the presence within a sword. Back then, the fact that he was a fake eunuch was revealed in this same manner.
Thankfully Prince Yan didn’t take that matter to heart.
It wasn’t long before their party soon arrived in Prince Yan’s manor where a beautiful maid escorted little Ming Yue to a room to rest while Ning Chen and the prince left for his study.
“Senior, the giant earthquake outside of the Mongolian royal capital, was that caused by your fight with that Sword from Sword City?” After a brief moment of hesitation, Ning Chen finally voiced the question he held in his heart all this while.
“Mhm.” Prince Yan nodded his head.
“That desert sword, did you manage to attain it?”
Just as he said that, Prince Yan lightly waved his hand. Immediately, a thin stream of sand flew out of the sword rack and rapidly condensed into a faint yellow sword.
Seeing that, Ning Chen’s eyes narrowed. What a strange sword, truly there was nothing too strange for this world.
“Did that Sword from Sword City lose?”
As he said that, a strange look crossed his eyes. That Sword from Sword City was an invincible legend in the hearts of all the swordsmen in this world and even Ning Chen had a hard time imagining his loss.
“He didn’t lose but this Prince won.” Waving his hand, the desert sword broke up and returned to the sword rack once more.
Hearing that, Ning Chen was momentarily taken aback, not to mention confused.
“This Prince reached that point first so the sword had to belong to this prince. On the flip side, if he reached there first, the sword would have belonged to him.” Prince Yan calmly explained. Yet, that did nothing to alleviate his confusion. With their vast difference in cultivation realm, he simply couldn’t imagine what the events of that day were like.
It was at that moment that a hurried set of footsteps echoed from the outside of the room followed by an equally anxious yelling.
“Reporting, Prince Yan, news from the palace, His Majesty has been assassinated!”
“How!” This sudden bit of news came as an intense shock to Ning Chen who, in that very moment, couldn’t believe his ears as he exclaimed.
“Come, follow this Prince to the palace.” Said the prince, swiftly reacting to the news with an icy look.
“What about Ming Yue?”
“That won’t be a problem, the manor is guarded by this Prince’s steward, as long as it’s not a Xiantian, no one can harm her.” Replied Prince Yan.
With a nod of his head, Ning Chen picked up the sword rack and followed the former out of the manor.
At that same moment, those who at the top of this pyramid known as Grand Xia all received word of the Emperor’s death and in the midst of their astonishment, left immediately for the palace.
Without a doubt, the death of the Emperor was a momentous incident whose suddenness would undoubtedly throw Grand Xia into another bloody storm.
Outside of Revelations Hall, the three grand dukes, the nine gentlemen ministers of the royal court and the nobility had all arrived in response to the Emperor’s passing.
Yet even with all these esteemed personages in attendance, there were three people in particular who held the rapt attention of those gathered.
The Eldest Prince, Xia Ziyi, the Third Prince Xia Yanwu and the Tenth Prince, Xia Mingri!
Of these three, it was the Eldest Prince who had the greatest shot at ascending the throne and deciding the fate of the empire.
Prior to this, the Xia Emperor failed to designate a heir and now that he had passed away, this ended up becoming the biggest threat to Grand Xia right now. With no clear heir, succession had turned into an even more complicated situation than it already was.
From a distance away, the figure of Prince Yan slowly came into view along with Ning Chen who was still carrying the sword rack on his back. Eyes turning, everyone’s attention was immediately drawn to the newcomers.
Everyone present had clearly heard that deafening explosion in the night so they couldn’t help but be amazed at the presence of that night’s main character. Truly, this Marquis Zhiming’s life was a tough one.
This had to be first time ever that a Xia Emperor ever failed in killing someone.
“Respects to his Highness.”
The officials kowtowed. While the Legend of Grand Xia wasn’t one for politics, that didn’t change the fact that he held the highest rank of nobility right now. This bit of formality was something no one dared to skip out on.
“Our gratitude, Your Highness.” The officials rose to their feet.
“Third Brother, it has been a while.” At that same instant, Prince Hua stepped forward to greet the prince after which he sighed.
“Seven years.” As those words left the mouth of Prince Yan, a hint of sadness crossed his eyes. Seven years wasn’t long but neither was it short. Even this Fourth Brother of his was beginning to age. Time was truly a cruel mistress.
“Eldest Brother, he…sigh…”
Turning towards the grand hall, Prince Hua sighed once more. Though the Xia Emperor had placed him under house arrest for ten years, at the very least he managed to keep his life unlike his other brothers.
Now that the man was dead, all grudges faded with the wind and all that remained were lamentations. Whatever hatred he held for the man, it had faded over those ten years. Hating a person was tiring after all and the prince had learnt to see past it already; one simply couldn’t spend his entire life with hatred.
Now that the Xia Emperor had died, what was once a family of ten brothers was whittled down to three.
“Let’s go, it’s time to send him off on his final journey.”
As he said that, Prince Yan strode off towards the main hall of Revelations.
Behind him, the officials followed behind the two princes and upon entering, they respectfully knelt on the floor.
Soon after, Zhang Sun arrived as well, crowned in dragons and phoenixes and dressed in her robes similarly embroidered. As she looked at the silent emperor sitting on his dragon throne, she let forth a heavy sigh. She couldn’t say that she was happy about this but neither was she particularly saddened by this either.
Having gone through wind and rain together for ten years, sending him off in such an ostentatious manner was the least she could do.
Atop the dragon throne, the Xia Emperor sat there, eyes wide open and smile just as mad as before. This life he led, he walked with no regrets.
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