Volume 3, Chapter 35: Affection as Deep as the Ocean

Within the Dawn’s Frost Palace Hall, as the negotiations reached a stalemate, Xiaoshunzi, standing beside the Imperial Throne to protect the Yong emperor, frowned slightly. Without any warning signs, he vaulted up. The members of the Fengyi Sect all believed that he was launching a sneak attack, practically advancing one step forward in unison. When they were about to attack, the imperial palace guards and wulin experts protecting the emperor’s safety could only shrink their defensive perimeter, complaining at Xiaoshunzi’s hotheaded impetuosity.

Just as battle was about to erupt again, Xiaoshunzi actually pounced behind the Imperial Throne, in the direction of a beautiful screen with a geographic map of the empire. Behind the screen was a door leading to the heated rooms. Qin Yi had long ago ordered men to lock that door. In addition, with the army having surrounded the palace hall long ago, no one paid any attention to what was going on behind the Imperial Throne. However, while Xiaoshunzi leapt towards the screen, a dazzling glint of steel lashed out, cutting apart the screen. An azure silhouette shot out like electricity but was intercepted by Xiaoshunzi. Barehanded, the two exchanged several blows, almost as if two falcons were fighting in midair. Before a dozen exchanges, the azure clothed man’s movements turned sluggish and he was hit by one of Xiaoshunzi’s palms. Everyone heard a muted groan, as the man fell down. At this moment, Noble Consort Ji’s gazed flickered, her delicate foot flying out and kicking a saber lying on the ground towards the fallen man. Flipping over in midair, the man kicked off of the saber, and as light as a feather, floated to the side of the Fengyi Sect’s sword formation. With a gloomy and ruthless look, the azure clothed man gazed at Xiaoshunzi, and callously stated, “Who would have thought that the painstaking efforts of me, Wei Ying, would be destroyed by you, a castrated slave.”

When Wei Ying had discovered that the Prince of Yong was assaulting the Hunting Palace, he did not hesitate in the slightest and rushed to the Dawn’s Frost Palace Hall. However, when he arrived, he discovered that Li Hanyou and company were already trying to fight their way inside. Wei Ying was clever, understanding that his addition would be of no use. As a result, he had made his way to the back of the palace hall. From the start, to prevent someone from attempting to infiltrate from the back, the rear of the palace hall was filled with hidden mechanisms and traps, sealing all of the entrances and exits. If it were someone else, they would absolutely have no way of getting inside. However, as the prime minister’s son and a high-ranking minister, Wei Ying had served in the Ministry of Works. He had once peeked at the architectural blueprints of every single imperial palace. Moreover, he was quite experienced with architecture and construction. As a result, he had to only spend half an hour before he was able to enter the palace hall.

After he had used his treasured sword to destroy the locks on the rear door, positioned behind the screen and extremely close to Li Yuan’s position, he was vexed to discover that the Fengyi Sect had yet to fight their way inside. By Li Yuan’s side were Leng Chuan and several expert imperial palace guardsmen. If Wei Ying were to make his move, it would be impossible for him to succeed on the first attempt. As a result, he could only wait patiently for a bit. Just now, when the Prince of Yong’s troops had arrived and all of the surviving Fengyi Sect disciples were surrounded, drawing the rapt attention and vigilance of Leng Chuan and company, Wei Ying believed that he had found the opportunity. When he was about to act and take Li Yuan hostage, he never expected that just as his killing intent was aroused, he was discovered by Xiaoshunzi. In addition, Xiaoshunzi had actually moved first, forcing him out of hiding.

Wei Ying was a student of the Fengyi Sect Master and was an expert at assassination. Formerly, he was the assassin that had attempted to assassinate Palace Attendant Zheng Xia. However, he was not a seasoned, top-level assassin. When he had started to act, he inadvertently leaked a hint of killing intent. This killing intent had been detected by the outstanding martial arts and sharp, perception of Xiaoshunzi. At this moment, there was a malevolent expression on Wei Ying’s face. If he had been able to take Li Yuan hostage, regardless of the demands that he raised, Li Zhi could only capitulate. From this, they would be able to leave unharmed. It had not occurred to him that such a great opportunity would be completely wrecked by Xiaoshunzi.

Seeing this situation, the Prince of Yong and company were filled with fright and delight. If Li Yuan had been taken hostage, as long as the demands of the Fengyi Sect weren’t too excessive, they could only acquiesce. Otherwise, it would difficult for the Prince of Yong to escape blame for using someone else to do his dirty work. Right now, possessing righteousness on his side, he could absolutely not tolerate such rumors from being spread. As a result, he shot Xiaoshunzi a glance of gratitude.

However, Xiaoshunzi did not seem to see the looks of gratitude that everyone shot at him. His entire mind was preoccupied with worries about the young master. Aside from here, the Hunting Palace had been pacified for quite some time, so why had he yet to hear any news of Jiang Zhe? While he was contemplating, a racket came from outside. A general hurriedly came in and reported, “Reporting to Your Imperial Majesty and Your Imperial Highness, the Prince of Yong, His Imperial Highness, the Prince of Qi, and Major Jiang Zhe, Jiang daren of the household of the Marshal of Heavenly Strategies request an audience.”

Li Zhi and Xiaoshunzi were both overjoyed. Not even caring why the Prince of Qi had also come, Li Zhi declared, “Please allow them to enter!” As he uttered these words, he suddenly remembered that Imperial Father was present. He hurriedly turned and expressed his apologies for arrogating the emperor’s authority.

At this moment, Li Yuan was also extremely jubilant. Although he did not approve of a relationship between Jiang Zhe and Princess Changle, he approved of Jiang Zhe’s intelligence. It was Jiang Zhe’s strategy that allowed the army to mobilize and rescue the Imperial Presence. In addition, he had just been rescued by Xiaoshunzi. As a result, he was not dissatisfied with the Prince of Yong’s behavior. Contrary to expectations, he gladly stated, “Rightly so … quickly have them come in!”

Quite soon, the Prince of Qi walked in with heavy footsteps. Behind him was Jiang Zhe helped along by two imperial bodyguards. Although he had only exited the palanquin before the Dawn’s Frost Palace Hall and simply walked less than a hundred paces, Jiang Zhe’s complexion was already as pale as paper. Seeing his current state, the Prince of Yong felt acute sorrow pierce his heart. After just a few days, Jiang Zhe was on the verge of collapse, the hair on his temples speckled white. Li Zhi promptly walked over to help support Jiang Zhe. With tears in his eyes, he said, “Suiyun, this Prince has harmed you … You … you …” He lost his voice, unable to continue.

I naturally understood why the Prince of Yong felt such sorrow. In truth, I had seen my appearance before a copper mirror. I was also completely astounded.1 Now I finally believed the story of Wu Zixu’s hair turning white overnight. However, I had fortunately only gained a few white hairs.

When Xiaoshunzi saw my present thin and pallid condition, his complexion immediately became ashen. Ignoring the emperor and the Fengyi Sect, he flew over to my side and checked my pulse. Over this last year, he had begun to learn medicine. Although he could not make prescriptions by himself, he had acquired significant skill in checking pulse and acupuncture. This was probably because of his impressive internal energy and meticulous mind. I had not the courage to continue watching his frown grow heavier. I looked around, seeing the shocked look on Princess Changle’s face. She expressed lamentation and deep concern. Were it not for her dignified and chaste natural disposition, and Noble Consort Zhangsun lightly holding onto the sleeve of her garment, Princess Changle would likely have been unable to help herself and have walked down from the dais. I showed a gentle smile, giving a comforting look to Princess Changle. I stepped forward and kowtowed, “This subject, Jiang Zhe, pays my respects for Your Imperial Majesty.”

At this moment, the Prince of Qi, with a somewhat impassive expression on his face, also advanced and kowtowed, after being reminded by his imperial bodyguards. He stated, “This child pays my respects to Imperial Father.”

Li Yuan glanced at the Prince of Qi before his gaze fell upon Qin Zheng. He frowned. At this moment, with a panic-stricken expression on her face, Noble Consort Yan looked at Li Yuan. Sighing, Li Yuan replied, “Xian’er … Today, before the truth is revealed, you should first wait on the side. If you did not participate in this rebellion, your second brother will surely not blame you.”

Li Zhi glanced at Li Xian, a complicated expression appearing on his face. He stated, “Sixth brother, first go to the side and rest. I will have a chat with you after I have pacified this rebellion.” So speaking, Li Zhi signaled with his hand. An intelligent imperial bodyguard promptly brought a chair over, placing it at my side. With a look asking for instructions, I glanced forward and upward at the emperor. The Yong emperor nodded his head, indicating that there was no need for me to hesitate to sit down. I only sat down after I had saluted the emperor. Wiping the sweat from my forehead, I smiled and stated, “This subject’s health is poor and has incurred Your Imperial Majesty’s ridicule. Your Imperial Highness, there is no need for you to worry. This subject was fortunate to receive help from His Imperial Highness, the Prince of Qi, and was given timely medical treatment. There is already no hindrance on my life.”

Li Zhi was moved, his gaze on Li Xian softening. Li Xian was dumbfounded as he stared at Qin Zheng. Qin Zheng lowered her head, unwilling to return Li Xian’s scrutiny. One could not see the expression on her face, only able to observe that crystal tear droplets fell to the ground.

With a poised expression on his face, Li Zhi stated, “Imperial Father, let’s speak of these matters later in the future. We should first capture these rebels. Wei Ying, Li Hanyou, you two have rebelled against the Emperor. Your crimes are unpardonable. If you surrender now, Imperial Father may reduce the punishments because of your youthful ignorance. Otherwise, you all have family and kin. Don’t tell me that you aren’t afraid to suffer the calamity of familial exterminations?”

Hearing the Prince of Yong’s declaration, I smiled slightly. I scanned the room, catching sight of Xiahou Yuanfeng faking a faithful and loyal expression on his face, standing beside the Yong emperor. Beside the Fengyi Sect disciples was Wei Ying. Although he had a sword in his hands, Qin Qing’s expression was stupefied. I could not help but recall the feast in the palace soon after I had entered into the Prince of Yong’s service and meeting these three youths who had jointly shared the title of youthful elites. However, having experienced this great storm, they had led to today’s circumstances.

When Jiang Zhe entered, Wei Ying was immediately filled with distress. Compared to the arrogant and prideful women of the Fengyi Sect, he attached great importance to Jiang Zhe’s ability and wisdom. As a result, he preferred offending Princess Changle in order to search the Cherishing Fragrance Park. Wei Ying did not know why, but as soon as this man walked in, an ominous premonition grew from the pit of his stomach. In order to set aside this feeling, he callously stated, “Why does Your Imperial Highness, the Prince of Yong, speak in such a condescending and pompous manner? Your Imperial Highness’s desire to seize the Imperial Throne has not been only for one day. Who doesn’t know that this Major Jiang is your head strategist? His Imperial Highness, the Crown Prince, originally had the honor of being the heir apparent. If it were not for the aggressiveness of you, the Prince of Yong, why would the Crown Prince have taken such a course of action that left him with no alternatives? In the olden days, a generational virtuous sovereign, Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty, who had the intent to depose his heir apparent, forced his Crown Prince to have no other alternative but to rebel under the support of his loyal ministers. Although, that Crown Prince ultimately died, Emperor Wu built a pavilion and a platform to remember the Crown Prince. Today, although we have suffered defeat, isn’t Your Imperial Highness seeking to use this opportunity to seize imperial authority? I’m afraid that in the future you will hold the Emperor under house arrest in the Imperial Palace. If you do not kill us all today, Your Imperial Highness will likely be anxious that you won’t be able to plug all of our mouths.”

Hearing Wei Ying’s sharp words, I saw looks of hesitation appear on the Yong emperor and everyone else’s faces. Raising my voice, I countered, “Wei daren’s words deliberately distort the truth. Although His Imperial Highness, the Crown Prince, had the honor of being the heir apparent, his conduct was unvirtuous and unacceptable. The meritorious contributions by His Imperial Highness, the Prince of Yong, are unrivaled in this present age. Although, due to seniority, he cannot succeed the throne, His Imperial Highness has never held any resentment in his heart. Instead, he has left no stone unturned,2 shedding his blood, sweat, and tears on behalf of Great Yong’s empire. Originally, he hoped that His Imperial Highness, the Crown Prince, would be benevolent and virtuous, treating good ministers as brothers. His Imperial Highness, the Prince of Yong, would have been more than happy to bend his head and serve as a subject. However, His Imperial Highness, the Crown Prince, only knew how to envy the virtuous and talented,3 repeatedly seeking to harm His Imperial Highness, the Prince of Yong. In addition, he indulged himself in obscenity and alcohol, doing whatever he pleased.4 A gentleman would be ashamed to associate with someone like him, while vile characters would seek to ingratiate themselves with him at every breath. Now he has rebelled against the Emperor, completely devoid of the mutual affection between liege and subject, father and son. In addition, he sought to use a fake edict, intending to harm My Imperial Highness. Were it not for the benevolence and virtue of His Imperial Highness, the Prince of Yong, that moved the Heavens, and all of the generals and jianghu friends risking life and limb, His Imperial Highness would have died long ago within the walls of this palace. Now His Imperial Highness has come, adhering to His Imperial Majesty’s secret edict, and has mobilized an army to rescue the Emperor. His actions follow the Mandate of Heaven and comply with the wishes of the common people. You, rebellious subjects, do not know to repent for your sins, instead seeking to sow discord between the father and son of His Imperial Majesty and His Imperial Highness. Even if you were to die ten thousand times, you would be unable to redeem your sins.”

Wei Ying furiously replied, “Major Jiang, although you are a sycophant to His Imperial Highness, the Prince of Yong, your official position is insignificant and petty. What qualifications do you have to speak within this audience chamber? Thinking back, you were originally the zhuangyuan and a Hanlin Academic of Southern Chu. Two generations of monarchs of Southern Chu and the Prince of De have you treated with great favor. However, you did not fully absorb the teachings of the sages. In order to survive, you surrendered to a wicked prince, plotting for him, setting up numerous crafty schemes. The Crown Prince is by nature honest and considerate, thereby falling into your traps, leading to his current complete defeat and fall from grace. How dare a disloyal and unjust turncoat and traitorous subject like you speak? We have raised the righteous banner to purge the treacherous traitors from the side of the Emperor. Although we have failed, we are not people who can be so slandered and vilified by vile characters like you.”

A look of derision appeared on my face. I waved my head, preventing the Prince of Yong from angrily interjecting. I retaliated, “Wei daren, at the time, I received great grace from the Southern Chu King and ultimately surrendered to Great Yong. I acknowledge that I am a turncoat. However, since ancient times, if a lord is improper, subjects will seek refuge in other states. This is exactly what is called ‘a wise bird chooses its perch, a wise minister chooses his master.’ In Southern Chu, I made some meager contributions and once submitted an essay admonishing the King for his conduct. Unfortunately, the King did not accept my loyal and sincere advice, dismissing me and transforming me into a commoner. After I pledged my allegiance to the Prince of Yong, Southern Chu even dispatched assassins to take my life. If we were to speak thus, it was Southern Chu who first abandoned me. His Imperial Highness, the Prince of Yong, did not scorn Jiang Zhe’s incompetence, treating me sincerely as a friend. Even if Zhe possessed a heart of stone, how could I ignore his kindness? After Zhe entered into His Imperial Highness’s service, I was frequently bedridden, unable to help relieve His Imperial Highness’s burdens. However, His Imperial Highness has never once turned his back on me. His Imperial Highness has the intentions to be Bo Le,5 treating the virtuous and talented people of the world with courtesy. I am no more than an ordinary individual and yet the Prince treats me with great courtesy. As a result, I am willing to bear the title of a turncoat. Even if I die, I do not regret anything.

“However, I do not deserve the title of traitorous subject. Wei daren, your esteemed father is the Prime Minister, the leader of the Yong civil officials. Wei daren, at a young age, you passed the imperial examinations. You rose through the ranks at a speed that can be said to be rarely seen. You have not even turned thirty and yet you already hold a position within the Imperial Secretariat. You will surely become a prime minister one day. However, daren has ignored the sagacity of the Emperor’s grace upon you, instead colluding with traitorous rebels; inciting the Crown Prince to ignore the separation between liege and vassal and the emotions between father and son; rebelling against the Emperor. The title of traitorous subject, aside from you, Wei daren, who else can bear?”

When I finished speaking, cheers rang out throughout the audience chamber. Cheng Shu, the Duke of Wei, shouted, “Jiang daren, you truly speak to one’s delight! Old Cheng is a coarse individual. I wanted to bitch this little traitor out. It was only because my words would be crass and vulgar that I dared not be rude before the Emperor. Wei Ying, traitor, should have renounced the Emperor’s benevolence. You should have been hacked into mincemeat long ago! What qualifications do you have to speak within this hall?”

Wei Ying’s expression shifted repeatedly, at once ashen, at once flushed. He regretted inwardly that he forgot that Jiang Zhe’s words were as sharp as knives. In years past, the man had used newly composed lyrics of one song in Shu to force the King of Shu to commit suicide. During the magnificent spring banquet, he had dissipated Qin Qing’s denunciation into smoke. How could he be so stupid as to seek to verbally spar with Jiang Zhe?

Wei Ying took a deep breath, seeking to change the subject and continue the negotiations. Suddenly Xie Xiaotong’s tender body became unsteady. Afterwards, Qin Zheng, Li Hanyou, and all of the other Fengyi Sect members began to sway, collapsing weakly to the floor. Only Xiao Lan and Feng Feifei remained standing, although sheer panic appeared on their faces. Wei Ying grew greatly alarmed. He knew that if something were to happen to these Fengyi Sect members, then he would definitely not have the ability to seize control of the emperor. Without any further misgivings and worries about harming innocents, all of the rebels would meet a tragic end.

Within the audience chamber, other than the ruler and ministers of Great Yong, there were officers and soldiers under strict discipline, and wulin martial artists with incredible skills. As a result, no one cried out in fear. However, all of them displayed looks of confusion. Some of those lacking in subtlety could not help but also reveal looks of dread, exchanging frightened looks. Tiredly, I stated, “Your Imperial Highness, everything is settled. We can make our move.”

The Prince of Yong glanced at me, astonishment in his eyes. However, he didn’t have the time to question me closely. He signaled with his hand, ordering his subordinates to advance and capture all of the rebels.

After he had stood off onto the side, Li Xian’s gaze was fixed on Qin Zheng. During the entire time, Qin Zheng refused to raise her head. The two completely forgot of the current state of affairs. Only when Qin Zheng collapsed to the floor did Li Xian let out a cry of fear. Just as he was about to take a step forward, he was pulled back by one of his trusted imperial bodyguards. The imperial bodyguard whispered, “Your Imperial Highness, you cannot allow anyone to take a hold on you.” All Li Xian could do was cease moving.

When the Prince of Yong signaled with his hand and gave the order,, a dozen or so imperial palace guards under Leng Chuan’s leadership charged towards Wei Ying, Xiao Lan, and Feng Feifei. Suddenly, with a loud bang, a hole appeared in the roof. A figure in white appeared, falling through the hole, accompanied by a whistle like the cry of the phoenix that seemed to reach the highest of the Heavens, directly pouncing at Yong Emperor Li Yuan. For the most part, everyone had been shaken by the sharp whistle, feeling their entire bodies become powerless, completely without the ability to block this interloper. Only Leng Chuan and Xiaoshunzi were able to react, simultaneously shouting angrily, leaping forward to intercept. The two figures were as swift as lightning, striking out with all of their strength. None guessed that the figure in white would simply wave the sleeve of her clothes, sending forth a surging gale, forcing Leng Chuan and Xiaoshunzi staggering back. However, both Leng Chuan and Xiaoshunzi were peak-level experts. Although that individual had been able to force them to withdraw, her speed was greatly reduced.

Within this short time frame, the imperial palace guards and the martial arts experts at the Yong emperor’s side all fully used their consummate skills to obstruct her. However, with a cry of a dragon, a sword appeared in the figure in white’s hands. Everyone heard only a dozen crunches, as all of the imperial palace guards and martial arts experts were pierced by the sword. One of them was even beheaded by the figure in white, splattering blood everyone. The nine steps leading to the Imperial Throne became a bloody killing floor. In the blink of an eye, the figure in white had arrived at the emperor’s side.

Noble Consorts Zhangsun and Yan were both already frightened out of their wits and unable to move. After that figure had beheaded an imperial palace guard, the two somehow gathered their courage, simultaneously throwing themselves before Li Yuan. Noble Consort Zhangsun was closest to Li Yuan, placing herself before Li Yuan, shielding all of his vital points. Although Noble Consort Yan was a bit slower, she spread her arms open, out in front, shielding Li Yuan and Noble Consort Zhangsun. The figure was startled. Her sword pointed at Noble Consort Yan’s chest, but did not pierce it. At this moment, Princess Changle and Li Xian simultaneously cried out in alarm, “Imperial Father! Mother Concubine!”

Only then did everyone react, gazing at that figure. The woman was graceful and elegant, wearing a set of snow-white clothes. Her hair was as fine and dark as ink. A snow-white handkerchief covered the lower half of her face. Although the woman’s sword was pointed at Noble Consort Yan, everyone could feel that if she were to stab forward, the emperor and the two noble consorts would all lose their lives. No one dared to breathe. At this moment, a violent cough suddenly resounded within the audience chamber. Although the woman’s might and prestige was as formidable as always, everyone could feel that her killing intent reduced a bit. With this, everyone could not help but relax, and following the sound found the individual who had used this method to extricate everyone from the deadlock. Seeing the person, everyone could not help but cry out in alarm.

They saw Jiang Zhe holding a snow-white handkerchief over his mouth, coughing nonstop. Instantly, dark red bloodstains could be seen seeping from the handkerchief. Jiang Zhe had been injured by the accumulated internal energy within the female assassin’s whistle. While he was coughing blood without end, contempt flashed swiftly through Xiaoshunzi’s eyes, the severe chill on his face increasingly heavy and gloomy. He flew to Jiang Zhe’s side. Taking out a yellow wax ball, he tore off the wax covering, exposing a snow-white pill as big as a longan fruit. Immediately, the entire audience chamber was permeated with a fragrant medicinal scent that gladdened the heart and refreshed the mind.6 Xiaoshunzi fed the pill to Jiang Zhe. After a while, Jiang Zhe’s complexion gradually calmed, no longer coughing. Intending to use the handkerchief to wipe the blood remaining at the corners of his mouth, he discovered that the handkerchief was already saturated with blood, no longer of any use.

At this moment, Princess Changle, standing on the raised dais, was about to unhurriedly walk down. However, if she were to come to my side, she would have to pass that woman in snow white. As a result, Li Yuan and Noble Consort Zhangsun simultaneously shouted with alarm, “Zhen’er, don’t be rash!”

However, it was almost as if Princess Changle did not hear their words, slowly walking past that woman in snow white. In the past two days, she had been full of anxiety, finding it difficult to sleep. This caused her beautiful flowerlike face to gain a hint of haggardness. At this time, the dazed expression on her face only evoked tender feelings in others. She slowly walked to Jiang Zhe’s side, kneeling down on one knee. When she was about to take out her own handkerchief and help wipe away the blood at the corners of Jiang Zhe’s mouth, she discovered that in her anxiety, she had already ripped the handkerchief into shreds. She blinked lightly, a sparkling teardrop falling down onto her bluish-white dress. Her eyes suddenly brightened and she tore the sleeve of her dress. The sound of tearing silk could be heard distinctly in the audience chamber. At long last, she had torn off a piece of bluish-white silk. Afterwards, she gently helped Jiang Zhe wipe away the bloodstains on his face. When done, Princess Changle lowered her beautiful head into Jiang Zhe’s lap, beginning to weep quietly. For a brief moment, the entire audience chamber was deathly quiet. The only sound was the desperately restrained sounds of Princess Changle sobbing.

I took the pill that Sir Sang had given Xiaoshunzi with clear-cut and detailed instructions. This pill was called the “Nine Revolutions Heart Protection Pill.” Although I knew that my life had been saved once again, Princess Changle’s actions left me completely dumbfounded. Until now, my feelings towards her were those of adoration and pity. However, at this moment, I truly sensed Princess Changle’s infatuation with me. I could not help but feel warmth in my heart. Not caring about the proper etiquette between liege and vassal, the separation between a man and a woman, I extended a hand and gently caressed her beautiful hair. I had never before been like this. I knew that this woman occupied an important position in my heart.

Everyone in the audience chamber all took deep breaths of shock. After Princess Changle had rejected the husband selected for her by the Yong emperor, people guessed that she already had someone in her heart. The Fengyi Sect and the crown prince had once spread rumors to that effect. There were those who had heard rumors about the love between Jiang Zhe and Princess Changle. However, everyone considered these rumors to be false, as Jiang Zhe lived in seclusion and rarely left the Prince of Yong’s residence, while Princess Changle was known for her scrupulous adherence to the dictates of chastity. However, the present scene before their eyes caused everyone, for the first time, to believe the veracity of that rumor. But what was strange was that although everyone believed that the relationship between the two was a breach of proper etiquette, everyone’s minds and hearts were filled with sympathy and tenderness.

At this moment, the woman in white withdrew her sword, gradually turning around. Above the masked portion of her face, her bright eyes, like the stars in the sky, slowly looked around her surroundings. Even though she looked at nobody in particular, everyone in the audience chamber felt as if she was staring at them. The piercingly icy gaze was like a heavy hammer slamming into their heart. All could not help but retreat several steps.

Li Zhi sucked in a breath and stated, “This Prince is greatly honored to have the Fengyi Sect Master’s presence here. I wonder if the Fengyi Sect Master has any instructions?”

Footnotes:

大吃一惊, dachiyijing – idiom, lit. to be greatly surprised; fig. astounded
殚精竭虑, danjingjielü, idiom, lit. to exhaust one’s thoughts and ingenuity; fig. to rack one’s brains, to leave no stone unturned
妒贤忌能, duxianjineng – idiom, lit. jealous of the virtuous and the talented; fig. envious of those more capable
为所欲为, weisuoyuwei – idiom, lit. to do as one pleases; fig. to act willfully
伯乐, Bo Le, was a horse tamer alive during the Spring and Autumn Period, who was a famous judge of horses. He once discovered that a horse used to draw a heavy wagon was actually a swift horse. He is used as an example to refer to lords capable of recognizing the special talents of people and offer them the opportunity to showcase their skills.
沁人心脾, qinrenxinpi – idiom, lit. to penetrate deeply into the heart; fig. to gladden the heart, to refresh the mind

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