Having just woke up, the first thing Ning Chen saw was the jubilant yet angry eyes of Zhang Sun, beside her was the elegant yet crying face of Qing Ning. However, this moment of consciousness was short lived as he promptly fainted once more.
Stunned, the two ladies stared at the teen for a second before promptly summoning the manager to check his condition.
The result was: it was neither good nor bad. His body was a mess as usual but the fact that he regained consciousness for a second meant that there might be a second time.
To Zhang Sun and Qing Ning, the fact that there was no bad news was the best news so far. As long as he wasn’t dead, everything else didn’t matter.
Five days later, Ning Chen woke up once more. This time, he didn’t faint a second later. Noticing Zhang Sun beside him, he tried to smile but found that he didn’t even have the energy to do so.
“Stop moving around so much, no one wants to see that smile of yours.”
Zhang Sun snapped at the boy mirthlessly. More than anyone else, she knew that even though his smiles seemed harmless on the surface, they were rotten to the core.
Truth be told, Ning Chen sincerely wanted to smile right because right before he fainted, he clearly saw the Crystal Chestnut Flower bloom. It was breathtaking, just like Ah Man.
Ah Man wasn’t in danger of dying anymore and neither was he. Was there any better news than this?
However, the moment a person was overjoyed, it became easy for him to get excited and the moment Ning Chen got excited, he fainted once more. This time however, Zhang Sun wasn’t that worried. She calmly instructed Qing Ning to summon the manager and without waiting for the diagnosis, left for her own room.
These past few days were tiring for her. Thanks to that kid, she didn’t get any rest at all.
Within the Man Dynasty, in the princess’s yard…
Ah Man was seated on her bed, face white but still as beautiful as ever. In front of her was the face of her father that seemed wider than a giant pancake. (TL: It’s really big. Imagine a pancake around the size of a small to medium sized pizza)
“I want to see him.”
“No!” The Man King immediately shook his head and rejected her request without any hesitation. That brat already caused his daughter to suffer so much; there’s no way he was going to let her visit him.
In an even firmer tone, Ah Man made her request once more, “I want to see him.”
“No!” Seeing that she had no intention of giving up, he grew even angrier. “All you think about is that brat, do you even have a place in your heart for your Royal Father!”
“There is!” She answered with a nod of her head, her voice every bit as serious as it was sincere.
“…” At a momentary loss for words, the Man King wanted to lose his temper but couldn’t bear to. In the end, he patiently tried to persuade her, “Ah Man, that kid is still too weak, he can’t protect you. Once he becomes strong enough, you can look for him.”
“How long?” She asked in a soft voice.
“Wait till he reaches the peak of Ninth-grade.” Answered the Man King in an offhand fashion.
The girl thought about it for a while, her shapely eyebrows furrowed as she tried to remember what grade Ning Chen was at right now.
She had forgotten to ask him what grade he was in, but given how strong he was in a fight, he shouldn’t be that far off, right?
With that in mind, she nodded her head. “Alright.”
Seeing that, the Man King maintained his serious expression but deep down, he smugly chuckled to himself. He had just gotten word that the boy was basically a cripple now even though he managed to wake up. Peak of Ninth-grade? Good luck with that.
Even though it was slightly inappropriate of him to lie to Ah Man like that, it was all to protect her from danger. Her departed mother’s spirit would probably agree with his decision as well.
Back at Qinghe Manor, Ning Chen had just gotten word from Zhang Sun that Ah Man had regained consciousness as well. Since then, the smile on his face had never once faltered to the point where Qing Ning couldn’t stand his smitten smile anymore and decided to give him a tight slap.
It was a stinging slap but Ning Chen didn’t dare to resist her so he merely smiled back in a radiant, accommodating fashion.
Though the Empress’ face had shown a brief moment of joy the when he woke up, it was wiped away soon after by the dire situation Grand Xia was currently facing.
Hearing a brief summary of the recent events from Qing Ning, his heart fell as well. He never expected that so much would happen while he was unconscious.
The matter of the Northern Marquis greatly surprised him; to think the Xia Emperor would choose to do nothing and allow the massacre of Yangui City.
What was the point of him risking everything to deliver that letter back to the palace then?
As for the ruthlessness displayed by Fan Lingyue, he wasn’t really that surprised by it. After all, this was the same vicious woman who tried to assassinate a nameless character like him. Her ruthlessness and cunningness couldn’t be understated.
“Sister Qing Ning, can you push me to Her Majesty’s side.”
Hearing that, Qing Ning frowned a little in confusion. What was this boy up to again?
“It’s an important matter.” He added in a serious tone.
Nodding her head, Qing Ning didn’t question him any further as she lifted him onto his wheelchair and pushed him to Zhang Sun’s bedroom.
When they entered the room, Zhang Sun was in the midst of writing a letter to Prince Yan. She knew of the arrangement he had with Ning Chen —the one where he promised to be his Sword Servant for a year. Seeing that it hasn’t been a year yet, it was time for him to resume that job.
Keeping a promise was the most important aspect of being a man. As long as he wasn’t dead or had valid reason, his promise must be kept.
“Your Majesty.” Ning Chen respectfully bowed as he greeted her.
“Mhm, this Empress will summon Prince Yan to this estate, you still have to fulfill your obligations to him. Once the one year period is over, this Empress will dispatch Qing Ning to fetch you.”
As she said that, she folded the finished letter into an envelope and promptly handed it over to Qing Ning.
“Your Majesty.” Ning Chen raised his arm to stop her from leaving. Turning to Zhang Sun, he said in a solemn voice, “I can’t leave with the Prince, neither can he come over right now.”
Hearing that, Zhang Sun furrowed her eyebrows. She hated this kind of words, especially when it came from Ning Chen’s mouth.
“Give this Empress an explanation.” She declared in a deep voice, suppressing her impatience as she did so.
Ning Chen bowed once more before replying. “Your Majesty have you wondered what is the true cause for the Rebellion of the Seven Cities?”
In this world, there wasn’t anyone who seeked death without a reason. There had to be some kind of major incentive waiting for them.
The lords of these seven cities had already attained a prestigious position that was the equivalent of an entire region’s governor. With an authority that rivaled the ten military marquis of Grand Xia, was there even a need for them to rebel?
The answer was simple, they wanted to be the Dragon’s Guard, the founding members of a dynasty.
Within the empire, those who had the qualifications, the ambition but didn’t have much chance at the throne were the Third Prince, the Tenth Prince and Prince Yue.
As astute as always, Zhang Sun immediately understood his reminder and its implications. She couldn’t help but frown as she said, “You suspect that Prince Yue is behind all of this?”
“I’m entirely not sure about this but there’s no denying that he’s a suspect.”
Having said that, Ning Chen recounted the tale of how Prince Yue tried to recruit him to Zhang Sun. As he said before, there wasn’t concrete proof of his guilt but he was the most likely suspect.
“Such a thing actually happened?” Hearing his explanation, her brows furrowed even deeper. The Xia Emperor dispatched this prince to the furthest reaches of the empire and even dispatched a military marquis to watch over him yet he prince still managed to cause trouble.
Ning Chen was absolutely right: whether or not the Rebellion of the Seven Cities was caused by Prince Yue, she had to be wary of the man.
Furthermore, Prince Yan was, without a doubt, the best choice for this mission. Sending him wouldn’t alert their foes and at the same time, his strength was sufficient to handle whatever situation may arise.
After all, the Xiantians were the undefeatable monsters of this world and Prince Yan happened to be one of them.
Best of all, even though Prince Yan might not seem interested in such matters, in actuality, his transparency was known throughout the lands. Should Prince Yue attempt anything suspicious, the current legend of Grand Xia definitely wouldn’t show him any mercy.
“Qing Ning, just destroy that letter.” Zhang Sun said with a sigh.
“Mhm.” The girl nodded her head and with a clench of her dainty fists, turned the letter into ashes, envelope and all.
“Your Majesty, while this might sound inappropriate, with the condition of the Xia Emperor in doubt right now, having the Eldest Prince ascend to the throne would be for the best of Grand Xia.”
As he said that, there wasn’t any trace of favoritism or ulterior motives in in his words. Grand Xia truly needed a leader to stabilize the masses and the court. Given that Grand Xia’s laws of succession had always favored the eldest child, having the Eldest Prince ascend was the most legitimate choice that shouldn’t cause much opposition.
In the short term, the Third and Tenth Prince might be dissatisfied with this outcome and perhaps even oppose it. However, the moment the Eldest Prince became the Emperor, any opposition would be tantamount to a rebellion. Such a matter was serious enough to give these two princes pause. After all, given that none of the princes had enough power to topple a dynasty, trying to revolt was nothing short of suicidal.
Naturally, if the mastermind behind the Rebellion of the Seven Cities was one of the two princes, then that would have to be re-evaluated.
Yet in spite of that, the Rebellion of the Seven Cities was just a single rebellion in the end. No matter who the mastermind was, they had already revolted. Even if it turned into the Rebellion of the Eight, Nine or Ten Cities, having the Eldest Prince ascend would still be the best choice.
In short, the benefits vastly outweighed the disadvantages of having him ascend.
Ning Chen was well aware that his words were bordering on treasonous seeing as there was still no proof of the Emperor’s death. Thus, he only dared to bring this up with Zhang Sun. Enacting it on his own wasn’t going to work at all.
As expected, the moment those words left his mouth, Zhang Sun’s expression immediately darkened. She threw a glance at Qing Ning.
Without requiring another word, Qing Ning, walked up to the doorway and surveyed the surroundings for a moment before shutting the door tight.
“There was no one around.” She answered.
The moment Qing Ning said that, Zhang Sun slammed the table and furiously snapped, “Are you tired of living or something, for you to say such words!”
What he just said was akin to cursing the Emperor and wishing for his early death. If anyone else heard what he said, it was more than enough to have him killed a hundred times over.
“I didn’t mean much by it.” Seeing her flare up, Ning Chen timidly tried to come up with an excuse for himself.
“Don’t ever mention this again, no matter who it is.” Not at all placated by his words, she snapped at him once more.
“Definitely, most definitely.” Ning Chen furiously nodded his head. What he just did was baiting for a scolding.
Having gotten his assurance, her anger finally subsided a little. However, a thought suddenly occurred to her. “What was that thing you used to blow up Zhenqi Palace all those days ago?” She asked in a solemn voice.
“Black powder.” His eyebrows jumped as he answered.
“Where did you obtain the recipe?”
“…” Ning Chen had no way of answering this question without divulging his secret, however, after giving it some thought, he came up with a random excuse, “An old daoist gave me that recipe.”
Naturally, she didn’t believe a single word he said. Such a feeble lie could only fool a child. However, that wasn’t what she cared about. Since he wasn’t willing to divulge the information, she didn’t plan on pressing him any further.
“This Empress doesn’t care whether it was an old daoist or a young daoist that taught you that method, all this Empress wants to know is whether you’re the only one who knows this method.”
“Mhm, one hundred percent. I’m the only one who knows.”
Ning Chen nodded his head and answered in the sincerest of tones. Of course, all that was assuming there wasn’t another transmigrator in this world.
“Are you willing to hand over the method?”
Back in Ning Chen’s world, the invention of the steam engine propelled the advancement of civilization by leaps and bounds. Black powder, on the other hand, only advanced the cause of warmongers. No matter what, he didn’t want to bring forward the flames of war by a hundred, perhaps even a thousand years.
That’s why no matter what, the method of creating black powder must only be known by him!