Who Touched My Tail! - Chapter 146[Updated at: 2021-01-11 05:28:29]
11.2 – The Deng family intends to oppose us
editors: alamerysl & juurensha
There was a lot of noise outside the secret passage, but Xue Ling seemed quite at ease as he sat down.
He lit a few candles and laid them out on the slate-paved passage that represented the kingdom\'s terrain as he analysed the situation.
Xue Kingdom was currently experiencing a period of decline. As early as during the middle of the old Emperor\'s reign, the central government\'s control over the local districts had become tenuous. The princes stationed in various places around the kingdom and the governors of various provinces had become independent long ago. Although the situation within the kingdom seemed calm, in fact, they were suffering from both domestic strife and external pressure. The central government\'s arms were not long enough, and even if Li Yuan and Prince Xian controlled the Capital, they would still have a long way to go if they wanted to unite the kingdom. This was also the reason why Li Yuan had to intervene in military affairs later on, and one of the reasons Prince Xian became more and more wary of him.
The vast stretches of rivers and mountains that belonged to Xue Kingdom since its foundation had long since been separated by the kings. Although the central government still existed, it controlled nothing more than the interior region around the Capital. The candles that Xue Ling laid out represented the several princes and governors within Xue Kingdom that he could potentially make use of.
There weren\'t many people he could make use of. In fact, there were only four people, and these four had been local tyrants that ruled over their area for a very long time. Their lives were much more comfortable than Xue Ling\'s.
The little eunuch lying on the ground was confused as he began to regain consciousness, rubbing his eyes as he woke up. The back of his neck ached, and his sight was blurry. He sat up and was still for a moment before he finally noticed His Majesty sitting there in the candlelight with a solemn expression.
Shu Heng had served the little Emperor ever since he was small. He had watched him grow up and knew that his little master had always been suffering inside, but he could only watch from the side and had no way to share his worries. Even though he was often around his little master, Shu Heng was still completely enthralled by him.
He was the Emperor\'s closest servant and naturally knew that his little master was a ger. He had always kept this secret for him, and worried for him. In his younger years, his master had still been young, and others had no way to discern his secret - the little master was a tiny figure dressed in yellow robes as he sat on the Emperor\'s throne. Nobody would look at him, and they mostly kept their heads lowered as they spoke of affairs. However, over the past two years, his master had begun to grow, and as his frame stretched, his appearance began to transform. Slowly, some of the ministers seemed to notice that something was wrong.
Shu Heng had watched as that face gradually changed. Logically speaking, he should have built up a resistance to it, but at this moment, he was still dazzled, and his soul almost left his body.
The candle shone brightly, and the flames flickered, making that beautiful face seem dreamlike and surreal. He had rubbed away the ointment at the corner of his eye and exposed the red cinnabar mole that looked like a teardrop. Shu Heng didn\'t know if it was an illusion, but that red cinnabar mole seemed to have become much more vibrant. His gaze was lowered, his curling eyelashes seemed to quiver under the candlelight like moths, and the flames reflected in his eyes brought out a wash of red…
Shu Heng suddenly woke up from his daze as His Majesty\'s thoughtful gaze swept over and met his eyes.
He instantly remembered what had occurred before he fell into a coma, and what His Majesty had unexpectedly done to him. "Your Majesty…" He had always been both in awe and loving towards this little Emperor, but his actions earlier had been too impertinent due to his anxiety. Now, he was a little frightened as he recalled those events.
Xue Ling restrained the coldness in his gaze and responded in a lazy tone, "You\'ve woken up? Come over then."
Shu Heng did not know where they were now, but looking at His Majesty’s appearance, it should be a safe place. He was a little more reassured and moved to Xue Ling’s side. When he saw the candles laid out by His Majesty\'s feet, he raised his eyebrows in surprise.
His Majesty crouched on the ground, holding a candle in his hand, and pointed to the North. “Governor Wang\'s family is in the North, and he has his own soldiers that obey his orders. He established his own independence there long ago and no longer heeds the imperial court\'s orders. In the West, there is General Mo Bei who has 100,000 cavalry soldiers under his command. They have been stationed outside for so long that they no longer obey the Emperor\'s will. There is the Zhennan Prince to the South who has his own infantry and navy. He shares a border with the wealthiest part of the kingdom and has been established as the ruler of the South. Although the Shu Prince of the Southwest is Our royal uncle, we have never met at all. The stretch of land he rules over has always been known as the \'Kingdom of Abundance\'. Even if We manage to find him and traverse the mountains and rivers to return to the Capital, the soldiers would be gasping for breath before they even arrive…"
“Your Majesty…” Shu Heng blinked. He found it rather unbelievable that these words were coming out of His Majesty\'s mouth.
He might not know anything else, but he knew that ever since His Majesty learned that he was a ger, and different from other men, his focus had always been on wanting to learn things that gers would learn. He had never been interested in these political strategies and details at all. Later on, he didn\'t even dabble in these matters; the kingdom did not require his rule, and he was only used as a decoration at court. If one were to be truthful, he had become the mascot of Xue Kingdom - placed there to look pretty, and if others began to find him annoying, it would be quite normal for his throne to be overturned and his position snatched away.
Others might not know, but His Majesty\'s greatest wish was to find an ordinary family to marry into and spend the second half of his life living in an ordinary and peaceful manner. How could these kinds of words be spoken from his lips…
Xue Ling glanced at Shu Heng’s face and understood what he was shocked by. He opened his mouth and spoke slowly, "This is our land. We can choose not to want it, but others cannot be allowed to do this kind of disrespectful thing. I can bear the burden of all people under heaven, but all people under heaven will never defeat me. Shu Heng, do you understand?"
Shu Heng was shocked. He was completely stunned by His Majesty\'s momentum at this moment. He discovered that his knees trembled and he almost wanted to kneel. "But Your Majesty, you…" You\'re a ger! You were never intended to sit in this position and be placed in a situation where you had to deceive all under the heavens. You had no choice before, but now that you have an opportunity to escape, why would you involve yourself in this struggle?
The tone of his voice as he called out \'Your Majesty\' was too reverent, and caused Xue Ling to press his lips together. "Shu Heng, the people are the knife, and I am nothing but the meat on the chopping board. If We don\'t do something, do you really believe that Royal Uncle Xian would give Us a way to live?"
Shu Heng was left speechless. The Xian Prince had been kept in the Capital by the previous Emperor precisely because he was too powerful. Unfortunately, keeping him in the Capital was the old Emperor\'s intention, but the former Emperor collapsed soon after the decree was issued despite still being in his prime. His little Majesty had been directly pushed onto the throne, and the Capital had been in turmoil from then on. The Xian Prince then restrained his movements and settled down for several years so that basically nobody noticed him anymore. Unexpectedly, he had always been planning to usurp the throne.
Recalling what Prince Xian had done, Shu Heng’s face became grave.
Prince Xian and the Empress Dowager had always been incompatible. They had been political enemies back then, and if he was really the one in power, his little Emperor would never have come to a good end… "Then we should flee from the Capital. I can bring Your Majesty out, preserve our anonymity, and help Your Majesty live the rest of your life with no worries…"
Xue Ling sneered: “Shu Heng, is it that you\'re you too naïve, or do you believe that I am as naïve as you are? All land under the heavens belongs to the Emperor. Where can I escape to?”
Shu Heng did not speak any more. He pressed his lips together and blanked out his expression, but he was angry in his heart.
He was really useless, causing His Majesty to have to worry about these things.
“Governor Wang\'s family has not been a vassal of the Kingdom for a long time now. We do not have enough chips in Our hands to make them go against Prince Xian. And it will be a failure if there is a civil war, and the land ultimately ends up in the hands of outsiders." Xue Ling extinguished the candle that represented the northern ruler, and continued calmly, "Prince Shu is far removed from the situation, and General Mo Bei has an army of cavalry in his hands. If he really wanted to, he could level the Capital. However, he is indifferent by nature and does not concern himself with anything other than military power. He is most enthusiastic about fighting the Huns and disdains conflict within the royal court."
“Your Majesty\'s meaning is… the Zhennan Prince?” Shu Heng hesitated as he spoke. He did not have much knowledge about these things, but he had heard of the Zhennan Prince\'s reputation. "The Zhennan Prince is surnamed Wang. The old Emperor made an exception and bestowed a title to him back then, so he indeed owes a lot to the royal family… Only, he has been away from the court for so many years now and has wholeheartedly devoted himself to the South…"
“But he is close. Once we leave from the Capital, we only have to journey for less than half a month by land and water in order to reach his territory." Xue Ling was most concerned about wasting time on the road. "If he\'s willing to send troops, we will lay siege to the Capital and take the Xian Prince by surprise in the shortest possible time."
Shu Heng blinked. He was not sure why His Majesty was so confident about his ability to persuade the Zhennan Prince. "Your Majesty, when the Zhennan Prince was given his title, you were still young and had never seen him before. But I\'ve glimpsed him a few times…"
“Oh?” Xue Ling looked over with some interest. What he had said just now was inferred from the information he had at hand. After all, he had just arrived, and the original host\'s memories were pitifully few and not useful at all. It was useful for him to hear more whenever possible. "Do share."
“Shu Heng has not studied much, and can only say that he is one of the most prominent figures of the current era. He is different from the people in the Capital, tall and well-built, and he has a kind of never-ending courage. I only saw him once back then, but I was so scared my knees turned weak… To be honest, the people in the Capital are all a little afraid of him… He is a scourge. The title of Zhennan Prince is something he obtained through slaughter. I heard that that he is the son of the humblest businessman. He then joined the army and stood out from others in the barracks using his ability to kill. Bandits were prevalent in the South back then, and he brought people to slaughter them until they no longer dared to appear again. Although these words are somewhat disrespectful to Your Majesty, in the South, the people have always recognized the Prince of Zhennan as their ruler, and not Your Majesty."
Xue Ling waved his hand and extinguished the two candles representing the Northwest and the Southwest. He laughed as he said, "Not to mention the South, even in the Capital, nobody recognizes Us." He stood up and continued, "Since the decision regarding which direction to go in has already been made, we should depart earlier. Although this secret passage is hidden, it is not a safe place. After we\'ve emerged from the secret passage, we will change our identities and exit the city heading towards the South. We\'re going to look for the Zhennan Prince."
Although the little eunuch did not think it was a good idea for a little ger to be running around everywhere, when he saw the resolution in his gaze, he had no way to say anything. He finally shut up and kept quiet.
He had already done too many things he shouldn\'t do today. It would be better if he just obediently listened to His Majesty.
The secret passage was very long. The cabinet at the entrance contained some commonly used equipment - mainly silver and some clothes. Only, after so many years, while the silver could still be used, the clothes were rather ugly and old.
Xue Ling did not concern himself overmuch. He had Shu Heng pack everything away, and after it was all cleared out, he brought Shu Heng with him and left.
The secret passage was not just a single road that led outside. It was an intricate structure that had paths leading to other palaces. If one did not have a map, it would be like running through a maze - there was a possibility that they would never be able to emerge. Of course, there were several exits. One of them led to a prosperous area, and someone from the palace was tasked with keeping the place tidy all year round even if it had not been used for many years. It was absolutely impossible to use that path. The exit Xue Ling chose was the one that led the farthest away. It led to a small house in the suburbs that was empty all year round and had originally been intended as a refuge for the Emperor. It had not been looked after for many years but could still be used temporarily. That area was also sparsely populated, and they would not attract any unwanted attention by appearing out of the blue.
It had been noon when they entered the secret passage. Because they had delayed for a while, it was dark by the time they emerged.
Xue Ling sent Shu Heng to boil some hot water. After washing and rinsing, he replaced his dragon robes with the old clothing from the secret passage.
As an Emperor, his hair had been tied up despite his immaturity. Xue Ling let down his hair completely after cleaning himself up, letting it remain as a sheet of black silk. He looked for a mirror and finally took a look at his appearance in this life.
In order to make himself look more like a man, the little Emperor had to make some changes to his appearance every day. Smearing ointment over the red cinnabar mole at the corner of his eyes was only one of them. In order not to make his skin look so white, he also had to darken his skin. He had originally been thin; after adding on the dark tint, he looked dark and thin, like a skinny monkey. But after he cleaned up and took a look, Xue Ling was no longer surprised about why the guards had been so overwhelmed that they were immediately willing to make a move against the little Emperor.
The previous Emperor liked beauty. The little Emperor\'s mother and current Empress Dowager had been named as the number one beauty in the world back then. Only, the Empress Dowager had been a poisonous scorpion type of beauty. He worked with his family and poisoned the former Emperor, playing an important role in the Emperor\'s death while he was still in his prime. The little Emperor was nothing but a tool. The Empress Dowager seemed to disdain his identity, and spent very little time looking after him. If one asked him to describe how his son looked, he would probably be unable to say much. But in fact, the little Emperor had grown up to look very much like him.
“Ji Yunhua. This appearance is truly as gentle as a cloud and as beautiful as a painting." Xue Ling reached out and touched his reflection in the bronze mirror. Although the reflection was not clear, he knew exactly what kind of face this was.
He was really a beauty inspired by the moon, with jade in his bones, snow and ice in his skin, and autumn dew in his core. When one looked at him directly, they would feel invigorated. This kind of frail and soft look made Xue Ling\'s eyebrows raise so high they almost reached the sky.
Geez, there wasn\'t even a hint of masculinity. The system really tried to make trouble all day long, picking out such weird bodies for him every time…
They had escaped from the palace and had a temporary place to settle down in, but the palace was still in chaos. The Xian Prince waited for a whole day, but none of the men at his disposal managed to find the imperial jade seal or tiger insignia.
Li Yuan leisurely poured himself a cup of tea and sipped. His gaze was enigmatic as he suggested, "Could it have been brought away by Deng Shi?"
Prince Xian clenched his fists, “The Deng family intends to oppose us."
“Their control over the imperial court using the Emperor as a puppet is not a recent development. If we had not acted in secret this time, they would not have fallen behind and been forced to withdraw from the Capital in a hurry. Perhaps Deng Shi decided to steal away the imperial jade seal and tiger insignia in order to make some final trouble for you. At most, it will delay things by a day or two."
“Ha.” Prince Xian sneered. “That\'s truly naïve. Benwang will still ascend the throne without the imperial jade seal and tiger insignia just to show them it can be done!"
“The ceremony has been prepared for a while now. Your Royal Highness can ascend the throne tomorrow."
The Xian Prince looked at Li Yuan and reached out to hold his hand. He spoke affectionately, "After I\'ve ascended the throne, I will bring you into the palace with a huge procession and appoint you as Empress."
Li Yuan did not understand why he felt uneasy, but in the end, he put aside his worries, retrieved his hand, nodded and said, “Good. Then I\'ll wait quietly for news from Your Majesty."
forgot to mention, i changed ‘King’ back to ‘Prince’ – i was confused about how ranks work in ancient chinese settings.