The emperor kept his eyes downcast as he looked at the corpses before him silently.
Across from him were a group of retainers who like him were silent.
This was not Chong Wen Hall where conferences with retainers were usually held, but Hong Wu Hall where they discussed matters pertaining to the martial world.
The soldiers of the imperial court of this dynasty are rarely seen. Nowadays, it’s rare to see a large group of soldiers. Guard duties and maintaining the peace are primarily dependent on the regulations of the martial artists.
If the major powerhouses of the martial world were to start a fight, it could possibly cause an issue big enough to shake the very country itself. Think about it, if affluent and powerful people like the Shaolin abbot and leader of Wudang, were to go against the imperial court, then just preparing enough soldiers to supress them would be a massive headache itself.
Moreover, just those two alone could storm the imperial palace and take the emperor’s head. Even a large army would struggle against martial artists of that calibre. That’s also why the current dynasty doesn’t deploy many soldiers.
What use would an army be against martial artists in the pugilistic world who could easily defeat hundreds of soldiers and leap over high walls as if the walls didn’t exist? You could conscript as many peasants as you want to form an army, but they’d still stand no chance against one thousand martial arts experts.
That’s why the founding emperor decided to rely on the martial artists’ system instead when founding the dynasty. That’s also why official offices became a place young people with aspirations tried to join. It’s also why Liu Shan Men, the Emperor’s Entourage and the Qilin Guards make so much money endlessly every year it’s like they manufacture it, while not a single retainer has ever made a complaint.
And that’s because those three units are essentially the dignity and face of the imperial court.
Unfortunately, their dignity and face was now being mocked by the pugilistic world.
There’s been a huge uproar in the martial world in the capital the last seven days. The unknown culprit has kept a pace of one-per-day, killing seven warriors on Liu Shan’s Elite Rankings. The officials initially helped cover for one another, but the people dying were famous martial arts experts in the pugilistic world, so the news eventually got out.
And by the seventh day, it could no longer be hidden. When the emperor caught wind of the news, he was enraged. He ordered his men to bring him the corpses so that he cold personally see what was going on.
Eunuch Nan lifted off the white cloth covering the corpses, revealing corpses in terrible condition.
“Lu Duan, Yi-level warrior of the Emperor’s Entourage, age thirty-six. He was rank forty-five on Liu Shan’s Elite Rankings. He entered the Emperor’s Entourage at age fifteen, and served the emperor for twenty one years, earning him his position today. He specialised in using a pair of golden hammers. The pugilistic world gave him the alias, Golden Light Wheel, which referred to him… Being silenced with a single stroke of the sword.”
He proceeded to remove another piece of white cloth.
“Qilin Guard, Jia-level warrior, Chang Xiang, twenty seven years of age. He was rank thirty on Liu Shan’s Elite Rankings. He was originally from the pugilistic world and made a name for himself with his swift sword techniques. His skill and fame won him the acknowledgement of the captain of the Qilin Guards, who recommended he join the Qilin Gaurds. People referred to him as Swift Meteor Sword. He… He was a hot favourite for the upcoming martial arts tournament. His cause of death was having his skull lopped off with a big broadsword.”
Eunuch Nan tried to resist the stench of the corpses and his own fear. He quivered as he lifted the white cloth off another corpse.
“Qilin Guard, Jia-level, Jiang Qiran, fifty five years of age. Rank thirty one on Liu Shan’s Elite Rankings…”
The emperor angrily shouted: “Enough! There are seven corpses here. They killed seven of my warriors in seven days!”
The emperor angrily walked back to his seat, clasped his hands and stared at the retainers before him.
“The killer is getting more and more arrogant!”
The emperor heavily emphasised himself and the retainers couldn’t help but be scared. The emperor coldly looked at the seven corpses, and with eyes filled with anger, exclaimed: “I wanted to conduct the imperial martial arts tournament, and yet the culprit dared to kill warriors of the imperial court right under my nose. This is the capital! How are the people supposed to have confidence in the imperial court if this carries on? Where is Shuntian Prefecture?”
Sir Bao of Shuntian Prefecture is a fatty. His head was covered in sweat. He clumsily weaved his way out of the row of retainers, walked forward and knelt down.
“Y-Your humble retainer is here.”
“Seven warriors, seven lives. I can’t believe that something like this happened in the capital. The culprit is still on the loose and will continue to commit crimes. What are you people from Shuntian Prefecture doing?”
The Shuntian Prefecture government office is considered invincible, the leader of the entire country, and without question, the number one scapegoat in the capital. Not only do they have to manage the capital’s food matters, but also census registrations and the such on top of being responsible for maintaining safety in the capital. Whenever something happens, the blame falls on him. So whenever something happens in the capital, the unlucky one who takes the blame is Sir Bao.
Although he was used to it, he was still sweating: I… I… That… I…” He stuttered for ages but couldn’t offer anything useful.
“Shuntian Prefecture! You are in charge of maintaining the peace in the capital. You have countless warriors serving you. All the warriors of the imperial court in the capital are under your command. If you can’t explain yourself today…” The emperor looked furious and revealed his murderous intent in his eyes. He continued: “I don’t need your official headwear, I just want to use your head as an offering for these dead warriors!”
“Please spare me your majesty!!” Sir Bao kowtowed like he was pounding garlic and continued: “I am not trying to push the blame away from myself, but the reality is that although there are many warriors in the capital, they all belong to different departments, so they do not follow my orders. F-For example, those in your entourage only take orders from you. The Qilin Guards all have missions they have to complete daily, so I cannot order them around.”
The emperor then angrily asked: “What about Liu Shan Men? Isn’t Liu Shan Men thriving under Captain Song and Captain Shen’s leadership? What about them?”
“Umm, Liu Shan Men do not even have ten of their members ranked on Liu Shan’s Elite Rankings. Moreover, most of them are not in the capital, while the only one that is, is…”
“The only one left is what?!”
Hearing the emperor’s loud voice, Sir Bao immediately bowed his head and said: “That would be Vice-captain Shen Yiren. Your Majesty, how would I dare ask Vice-captain Shen to help me with a case?”
The emperor understood what he meant once he heard that.
The seven warriors who died were either Jia-level or Yi-level. Having someone of the same level investigate the case would be the equivalent of sending them to their death. Only someone of a higher level would be qualified to investigate it.
Those in the Jia-level are rank twenty-one and above. The tier above are those above rank twenty. People refer to those in that tier as the pillars of the imperial court, the “Seventeen Hidden Dragons”. At current, there few of them in the capital, Shen Yiren being one of them.
The emperor treats Shen Yiren like his own daughter and dotes on her to the utmost degree. You want him to send her out to investigate such a dangerous case? He was falling into his old temperament as a silly-emperor slash father again.
“You handled this case well. Vice-captain Shen is having a tough time managing the large Liu Shan Men as is, so you are correct in saying that she should not get involved with this case.”
Sir Bao was well aware that the emperor treated Shen Yiren like his own daughter. And just as he expected, the mention of her calmed the emperor down a lot. Sir Bao wiped the sweat on his forehead and sincerely thanked the emperor as if he’d been spared from the jaws of a tiger. Sir Bao successfully kept his life today.
“Shuntian Prefecture cannot be blamed for this, but this case must be solved.”
The capital is the residence of the emperor, so nobody has dared to stir trouble before.
Not to mention the emperor’s presence itself.
The captain of the Qilin Guards, the Emperor’s Entourage and Liu Shan Men were all here in this city, so it was rare for anyone to dare stir trouble in the emperor’s residence.
But someone just had to do it. And they just had to be flamboyant and unscrupulous with their methods.
Not only did they kill warriors of the imperial court, they even went and hung their corpses in the city. That’s the same as publicly insulting the imperial court.
“If this continues, they’ll kill whoever they decide, and cause as much chaos here in the capital as they please. That’s a direct insult to me as the emperor!”
“We are all at fault! Please pardon us, your majesty.”
All the retainers knelt down in unison, trembling with fear and uncertainty. The emperor got madder and exclaimed: “The only thing you lot are good at is kneeling! Not one of you can provide me with a suggestion at crucial times!”
One of the major retainers stepped out from among them and said: “Your humble retainer has a plan!”
When the emperor saw him, his eyes lit up.
That was none other than the third seat of the Qilin Guards, Long Zaitian. The conference was called for in a rush, but they still ensured that the captain of the Qilin Guards was present. As such, all three leaders of the three government offices were present. However, the Qilin Guards decided to send Long Zaitian instead. Long Zaitian holds a title in the imperial court, thus allowing him to attend the conference at Hong Wu Hall.
“Long Zaitian, what plan do you have? Hurry and tell me.”
Long Zaitian lowered his head and acted like he was some sort of sage, took a deep breath and softly said: “I believe that the culprits in this case have a bigger plot in mind. I believe that the culprits belong to one of the four evil sects which have never agreed to let the imperial court rule. They must have a scheme of some sort since they dared to do this. And since they have chosen to commit the murders now, it is needless to say that it is linked to the imperial martial arts tournament.”
The emperor nodded slightly as he listened and said: “Uhm, that makes sense. Please continue.”
“Therefore, I would like to make a daring request of you to cancel the imperial martial arts tournament.”
The emperor almost fell of his chair when he heard him. Cancel it?
So we’re going to basically let the culprit bully me now? The imperial court’s reputation just basically got splashed with sewage waste. You want me to cancel it? Isn’t that the equivalent of me admitting to the world that I’m afraid of the culprit?
The emperor shifted his eyes side-to-side again and suddenly understood what was going on. The imperial martial arts tournament was a chance given to the three major powerhouses. Five of the seven warriors killed were Qilin Guards. Their participant list had undergone a major change. As one falls, another rises. The Qilin Guards were worried that their rankings on Liu Shan’s Elite Rankings would suffer. They were afraid that Liu Shan Men and my entourage would replace their standing.
They’re prioritising their internal conflicts with each other over national affairs! Long Zaitian, you piece of shit!
The emperor didn’t comment.
“What do you all think?”
The retainers all thought that the emperor liked Long Zaitian’s plan, and competed to be first to support it.
“That makes sense. I would like to ask your majesty to cancel the imperial martial arts tournament.”
“Captain Long’s devotion to the country is admirable. He is an exemplary example to be followed.”
Long Zaitian was proud of what he heard and took pleasure in it.
The emperor couldn’t help himself. Nobody looked at the look on his face or bothered to listen to what he had to say.
He closed his eyes and went silent.
The emperor took a few deep breaths and calmed himself down.
In the end, the emperor gave Long Zaitian and all the retainers present four words.
“Shut your fucking mouths!”
Translator Comments: Thank you for patiently waiting for the return of this comedic and quirky series! While I set this series aside for a while, I also tried to combat aggregate sites, but after a few methods, I’ve decided it’s not worth ruining your reading experience for it. So I’ll just ignore them. Reading here will mean that you will see exclusive artwork and content, something their bots won’t pick up and their readers will therefore miss it, so it’s no loss for nobody. Secondly, and this is for the enthusiasts. I have made changes to Patreon so that all tiers will now be able to access chapters early. Further, I have now enabled “Charge Upfront”. I have made a detailed post explaining the reason for my decision here: https://www.patreon.com/posts/changes-to-13814332
Lastly, I will do my best to get the rights to translate this series. I’ll detail it in tomorrow’s release. See you tomorrow!