Having just put on her sleepwear and gone to sleep, she was interrupted by an urgent knocking on the door. In the entire Weiyang Palace, only Qing Ning dared to visit her unannounced. Knowing her, Qing Ning would not disturb her without an extremely important reason. It must truly be dire to force her to disregard palace protocols.
“Enter.” Zhang Sun calmly said after getting up and throwing on a dress.
Without her makeup, she lost a bit of her regalness but instead gained a natural beauty and a sense of serenity. She had crossed into her 30s a few years back but still retained her beauty. Not only did the years not leave a mark on her face, they gave her beauty a tinge of maturity that made her that more bewitching.
“Your majesty, there’s trouble.”
Qing Ning said as she pushed open the room door and hurried in.
“Calm down. Now calmly explain it to me.”
Zhang Sun reassured her while she laid on her bed, an aura of calmness and elegance radiated from her.
“Your majesty, please come over here and see for yourself.”
Qing Ning pushed open the room’s windows and helped Zhang Sun to the window before pointing at the shiny red star in the southern sky.
“The Emperor’s star in the Scorpius constellation. What’s wrong with it?” Zhang Sun responded in a puzzled tone.
“There’s another red star beside it.” Qing Ning pointed once more as she said.
“Mars staying at Antares? That’s not right, these two stars haven’t met up and Ying Huo’s radiance is too dim. The signs do not point to Mars staying at Antares.”
Zhang Sun refuted after recovering from her momentary shock. Mars staying at Antares was like two stars battling it out in the galaxy; their shimmering radiance clear for all to see. Judging by their current state, while the two stars were close, they weren’t considered as having met up.
(TL: The last time Mars staying at Antares happened: 24 Aug 2016, a certain American coconut threw her election and a few months later and an orange came into power.)
“Your majesty, they will meet up tomorrow.”Qing Ning anxiously pressed her point upon seeing Zhang Sun doubt her report.
“Hm?” Zhang Sun was surprised at Qing Ning’s behavior. Qing Ning didn’t study Astrology and rarely bothered about such matters. What’s with her today?
“Who told you about this?” A dangerous glint flashed past her cold eyes. Qing Ning didn’t know about these matters but if someone else deliberately misled her then it would explain her strange behavior.
Noticing the coldness in Zhang Sun’s question, Qing Ning was taken aback but had no choice to rat out her informant, “It’s Ning Chen.”
Zhang Sun’s eyebrows rose as she heard Qing Ning’s answer. She thought it was a spy from the Western Palace who deliberately misled her. From the looks of it, it wasn’t.
Qing Ning recounted Ning Chen’s explanation word for word, making sure not to leave out even the minutest of details.
As she got to the part about Ning Chen counting stars on the rooftop, Zhang Sun couldn’t help but chuckle; however, as Qing Ning continued recounting, her face became extremely grave.
Antares was the emperor’s star, while Ying Huo signified famine, war and plague. The two meeting up heralded disaster.
“Bring Ning Chen here immediately.” Zhang Sun instructed Qing Ning.
Back in Ning Chen’s room…
Just as he got back he caught sight of Mu Cheng Xue. This was his first time seeing her under a clear light and without any grime on her. He spent some time admiring Mu Cheng Xue’s appearance. Ah…food for the eyes. After that, he went to bed. As for Mu Cheng Xue, the large room was now her domain.
*Bang Bang Bang*
An urgent knocking startled Ning Chen out of his sleep. He anxiously turned to Mu Cheng Xue but upon discovering that she had hidden herself, he quietly breathed a sigh of relief.
“I must’ve sown some bad karma recently. I keep getting surprises one after the after.” He patted his head with a vexed expression. As he opened his door, he saw his second favorite eye candy, Qing Ning standing at the door. Just as he wanted to greet her, he got dragged out.
Ning Chen finally found out what walking on wings felt like. They were definitely walking but somehow he felt like they were flying; they covered a large distance in the span of a few breaths.
By now, Ning Chen was dizzy from being manhandled. He swayed about as Qing Ning dropped him off beside Zhang Sun.
Zhang Sun stared intently at Ning Chen, her eyes scanning his body several times as she did so. He felt like her gaze would’ve have bored a hole in him if she continued.
To her disappointment, she failed to discern any clues about Ning Chen’s motives or thoughts.
“Hm? Ah?” Hearing someone call out his name, he finally recovered from his dizzy spell.As he looked up, he immediately retreated a step and nearly yelped in surprise as he found the source.
Avoid fires, avoid robbers and avoid Zhang Sun. Those were his 3 tenets. He had long since labelled Zhang Sun as a blackhearted woman since she swindled his penny and even dispatched him to Weiyang Palace.
Was it easy surviving in the empress’s territory? Definitely no.
“You are scared of me?” Zhang Sun queried. Was her reputation so bad that it warranted such a reaction.
Was Ning Chen able to tell the truth? Would he tell the truth? Definitely not, unless he did not wish to live!
“Of course not, your majesty’s virtue is well-known throughout the palace. This one’s legs were just numb from Sister Qing Ning dragging this one here in such a hurry.”
He made sure to denounce Qing Ning while flattering Zhang Sun. Serves her right for always bullying me. Do you think you are all that just because you know some martial arts? Do you? DO YOU?!
At the side, Qing Ning was grinding her teeth. If Zhang Sun wasn’t here, she would have definitely beat up this brat.
Zhang Sun definitely saw through his little scheme, but chose not to expose it as she lightly smiled.
“Was what you told Qing Ning true?” Her face turned grave as she said this. This was a serious matter and if it was true, things could become complicated.
This was because Emperor Xia had just decided to dispatch the troops. The imperial edict would most likely be issued tomorrow. Both she and Concubine Wan from the Western Palace were present when the decision was made; they both saw the resolute gaze in the emperor.
Ning Chen was stumped by her questioning. He had several conversations with Qing Ning and most of them were idle banter. There’s no way he would remember all of that.
“Do you know Astrology?” Zhang Sun asked once more.
“I do not know Astrology.” Ning Chen honestly replied.
*crack* He heard something crack near him as he said this. Qing Ning was staring daggers at him.
“Then why did you tell Qing Ning that Ying Huo and Antares were about meet?”
As she said this, her eyes narrowed. This wasn’t a game; if there was a single lie in his words, she wouldn’t laugh it off like before.
“Wasn’t it common knowledge?”
Ning Chen wanted to dismiss her question as such, but of course he kept this to himself. Instead he respectfully replied, “Reporting to your majesty. This one heard an expert talk about this omen when he was young. This was how this one came to know about it.”
“How reliable is this information?”Zhang Sun asked with furrowed brows.
“80-90%.” Ning Chen humbly replied.
Her brows furrowed even more at his answer. Evidently she wasn’t pleased with his answer. 80-90% meant that there was a 10% chance that nothing would happen. However, when it came to matters of the state, a 10% chance of mishap wasn’t tolerable.
Seeing Zhang Sun’s beautiful gaze stare him, he became exasperated. It’s called modesty; don’t you know that modesty is a virtue.
“It will definitely happen.” While he derided them mentally, he ended up changing his answer.
“100%?” Zhang Sun pressed him.
“100%!” Ning Chen replied firmly.
“Alright, this one will believe you!” She rose to her feet, determination clear in eyes. “Qing Ning, get the carriage. Destination: Revelations Hall.”
Zhang Sun and Qing Ning took off while Ning Chen stood there in a daze; how was he going to get back to his room? Gritting his teeth, he made his way back, all the while cursing under his breath. It only took him the span of a few breaths to get here but Weiyang Palace wasn’t small. He almost lost his way as he navigated through the twists and turns on the road back.
The lamps in his room were extinguished. If he recalled correctly, he had left them on before leaving, and these lamps should have enough fuel to last half the night.
As he softly pushed open the room doors, he walked up to his bed. He spotted a seductive silhouette sleeping soundly on his bed.
He fumed as he pointed towards her, hand trembling.
“The bed’s mine. The blanket is also mine.”
Ning Chen screamed in his heart. He really wanted to kick this ungrateful woman off his bed but remembering the glaring gap in their martial prowess, he immediately banished this thought.
How does one put up with this? How Does One Put Up With This?!
He viciously waved his fists at Mu Cheng Xue. Why are women such a pain? Qing Ning is a pain, Zhang Sun is a pain, Mu Cheng Xue is also a pain!
He considered squeezing onto the bed with her but he wasn’t happy about drawing the short end of the stick so he decided not to give her a chance to take advantage of him.
A knocking sound echoed in the room as he pushed four stools together, covering it with a thick cotton mat to form a makeshift bed. He then happily hopped onto his ‘bed’.
He thought to himself, “I’m a genius. I’m such a genius!”
“That girl’s martial skills were very high. Be careful.” Mu Cheng Xue nonchalantly said, her eyes wide open.
“Yup, I’m aware of that.” Ning Chen replied indifferently. Then, with a loud crash, he rolled onto the floor and exclaimed, “You aren’t asleep?”
“I was awake the moment you came in.” She said while staring unblinkingly at him.
“Hah…” He laughed dryly. However, he suddenly recalled what she had just said and asked her, curiosity burning in him , “ Then are you the stronger one, or is she stronger than you?”
“It’s me.” She frankly replied.
“Someone doesn’t know the meaning of modesty.” He smirked as he thought to himself.
“However, if she decided to bully you, even a hundred of you will not be enough to take her on.” Mu Cheng Xue said, not forgetting to rub salt into his wounds.
As she finished saying this, he felt an imaginary arrow pierce him. Sounds of crumbling and galloping filled the air as the last vestiges of his self worth crumbled and were instantly trampled by a million galloping horses. One hundred times; ten thousand times; a million times.
He turned his head away and ignored her. Bully!
“That’s under the assumption that she doesn’t want to injure you.” Mu Cheng Xue added, once more with the salt.
Ning Chen kept quiet and pretended not to hear her.
“To her, you are just too weak.” , that salt shaker must’ve been filled to the brim.
Ning Chen endured while telling himself. “I’m a genius…I’m afraid of no one…I’m a genius…”
“Too bad, she is a girl.” Shake shake.
*bang* He abruptly got up and stared at Mu Cheng Xue viciously, “I want to learn martial arts!”
Mu Cheng Xue paused as she heard this. She then nonchalantly rebutted, “You aren’t cut out to be a martial artist!”
Ah! He felt like exploding right now. Bully! So hurtful!
“I’m a genius!” He began his autosuggestion once.
“You aren’t.” Mu Cheng Xue corrected him, mercilessly shattering his dreams.
Ning Chen’s eye blazed with anger as he stared at Mu Cheng Xue. His eyes burning like a pair of lamps fueled by rage.
“I’m going to sleep.” She said as she turned around pretending not to notice his anger. Surprisingly, she finally ran out of salt to rub into his wounds.
Ning Chen wasn’t disturbed by her display, resolutely he continued to stare. He was to going to use his amazing psychic powers to flatten his opponent.
Several minutes later…
Ning Chen was as focused as ever, his eyes sharp as swords.
15 minutes later…
Ning Chen persevered, his gaze unyielding.
30 minutes later…
Ning Chen rubbed his eyes and gritted his eye as he pushed on.
Two hours later…
Ning Chen’s eyelids drooped as he continuously yawned.
Another hour later…
He fell asleep with reluctance in his heart
Astrology isn’t astronomy in case people were wondering. Astronomy involves the scientific study of celestial bodies. While Astrology is the belief that movement in celestial bodies affected our world and sought to study this connection.