Chapter 174 – Major Incident
A constable was running frantically to the government office. It was snowing heavily at this point, and the doors to the government office were sealed shut. Under the faint yellow light from the lamps, several bailiffs were sitting inside, casually talking and eating peanuts.
When they heard the intense knocking upon their doors, the men stood up and looked worriedly at the door, “Who are you? Stand still!”
“It’s me!” The constable shouted loudly
“What’s happening? The old master is behind, resting!” The bailiff shouted back, recognizing the voice of the person outside.
“There’s a major case. Something big happened.” The door opened as the constable rushed in, the tone in his voice had changed, “Quick, hurry hurry…”
As he spoke out, he ran inside. As he hurried across, he slipped and fell, falling face first onto the marble tiles. He ignored the pain before standing up once more, and running to the backyard.
Something so major happened today, the higher-ups would have to hear of it as soon as possible.
The constable walked across the backyard, knowing that the prefectural magistrate was in the study.
“Your excellency, something major happened! Something major happened!” The constable walked into the study, and knelt down before the magistrate, his face was drained of all color.
“Could it be related to the case of the big traitor? So what if you’ve apprehended him, that’s expected. Why would you come to me, ignoring all decorum and propriety.” The magistrate was drinking some hot tea, enjoying the massage given to him by the serving maid, who was pressing his shoulders. He seemed like not even the most severe incident could ruin his indifferent mood.
The constable spoke out anxiously, “Your excellency. Today, Eunuch Ding, the Dao official, and the patrol officers are all dead.”
“Even the thirty men taken from King Lu’s Black Robed Army are all dead.”
When the magistrate heard these words, his face took a major shift before standing up, “Tell me everything in detail. Was it that the army were disorganized?”
Eunuch Ding was of the sixth rank, and had the protection of soldiers. At this point, when he heard that a disaster like that happened, he assumed it was because the troops were not organized, and failed in their mission.
The constable had a look of intense fear written across his face, “It’s nothing to do with the army. It’s that the eunuch was pursuing the traitor, and managed to corner him at the home of the Daoist official. Eunuch Ding commanded his men to surround him. However, the traitor managed to use his demonic powers, and binded everyone present to their feet. Nobody could move. That was how Eunuch Ding, the Black Robed Soldiers from King Lu, the Daoist official, and patrol officers died. They were all killed in their rooted state.”
The constable spoke, as the magistrate listened. His face started to reveal a look of horror, “What? All of them are dead? This is a disaster. Immediately report this matter to the Imperial Court, the Governor, and King Lu.”
“Hold it, don’t go first. Help me call on Master Lu, we need to discuss this matter.” The magistrate hurriedly stopped the constable just as he was about to leave. His expression was extremely unsettled.
“Yes, your excellency.” The servant at the door responded and hurriedly ran off to call Master Lu over.
At the same time, a man was dispatched on a horse, as it halted outside the Governor’s mansion.
He gave a brief report to the guards outside and they allowed him in. When he was led into the study room, he fell to his knees and reported, “Governor, your excellency, King Lu’s eunuch Ding, Daoist official and patrol officers were all killed. Even the Black Robed Soldiers belonging to King Lu were killed as well. None of them were spared.”
The Governor stood up instantly. He had been an official for thirty years and never heard anything like this before. His face turned ashen, and was about to lash out when he recalled that he was afterall the Governor, and had a reputation to maintain. He then simmered down and spoke calmly, “Men, report this matter to the Imperial Court and the Crown Prince.”
Once the men left, he stood up once more and started pacing around. “This man is a merciless savage, and is exactly how he was rumored to be. Since something like that has happened, it seems like Liang Prefecture will be at unease for the near future.”
King Lu Palace
The snow was falling unrelentingly, and resembled goose feathers dropping. There was a large fireplace in the middle of the main hall, which radiated heat and made it warm and comfortable to reside in. King Lu was seated in the main hall, and only wore a thin robe, with a coat with drawings of a python draped over his shoulders. At this point, he was reading several documents.
King Lu picked up his quill and dipped it into ink, and started writing. All of a sudden, he heard someone burst through the door, “My King, my King, something has happened. Ying Prefecture’s…..”
Even before he could finish his sentence, King Lu looked up at him icily, and spoke, “Get the hell out of here. Slap your mouth ten times before coming in again.”
Hearing the instruction issued to him, the eunuch’s expression fell. His majesty was most particular about rules, and used military rules to govern the entire palace. Instead of reporting the matter at the door, and wait for the King to allow him in, he burst through the door without following rules. Being punished by slapping his own mouth ten times was considered a kind punishment. He then extended a hand and slapped himself on the lips fiercely, “Pa, pa pa!” His face started to turn red, and his lips started to swell. He didn’t dare to go easy on himself.
“My King, this small subject has a matter to report.” The eunuch ran out to the door and reported his purpose. King Lu then looked at him before shouting out, “Enter!”
This eunuch was the personal eunuch and attendant to King Lu himself, waiting to be granted admission into the main hall. King Lu’s face turned cold as he spoke out, “What could possibly be the matter for you to lose all decorum? How did I teach you to enter the hall in the past? Speak up. What’s the matter?”
King Lu was then looked down at his documents, his expression was stoic as he spoke out.
The eunuch’s face was red and swollen after being slapped so many times. He bowed his head and stepped forward to hand over a document. “My King, news from Liang Prefecture. The traitor Pei Zi Yun refused to submit. He then killed Eunuch Ding, and the Daoist official. Additionally, the thirty Black Robed men you sent out were killed as well.”
When King Lu heard this, his quill was mid sentence when he stopped, his expression unchanged. He then started writing once more. When he was done, he read through the entire paper once before handing it over to the other eunuch standing beside him. “Send this out, follow the instructions and handle this affair exactly as written.”
The eunuch beside him then received the document before leaving the through the door. King Lu then received the document by the eunuch who had slapped himself, and started reading his. His face turning cold with every word read. The fingers which he used to hold onto the piece of document were pressed tightly to the piece of paper, as if he was trying to suppress his anger, and take it out on the piece of paper instead. He then looked at eunuch and asked, “Pei Zi Yun, is he really that strong?”
Hearing King Lu’s words, the eunuch bowed deeply before replying, “Strong, very strong. Zhao and Ding are very skilled men, and yet they both died at the hands of this man.”
“When it comes to normal Yin Masters, we’ve dealt with some before, and managed to kill them easily. All that was needed was to suppress their Dao arts, and send ten men to kill them, it was easy..”
“But this person’s martial arts are extremely proficient, and he is capable with Dao arts as well. It is very different.”
Hearing the eunuch’s words, King Lu picked up his tea cup and drained the entire cup in one gulp. He was finding it increasingly difficult to control his anger, and was about to explode in fury. Seeing King Lu this way, the eunuch hurriedly added, “But eunuch Zhao, who was killed in the explosion on the mountain was an incident that nobody could anticipate. Even Ji Bei Hou was at a loss and turned to us to kill Pei Zi Yun. He sent his third son, and was even blinded in the explosion. His face was ruined beyond help, and is still in a coma up till now.”
“Deputy Eunuch Ding learnt from that incident, and made extremely prudent moves, and prepared himselves very well, but in the end, still failed to apprehend him. He even died in the process. Although according to the reports, Pei Zi Yun was only able to manage this due to a hidden weapon of some sorts he obtained, it’s clear that Pei Zi Yun did some planning of his own as well. Additionally, he has a certain element of luck with him. To handle someone like that, we have to kill him by striking hard and fast. We must not allow him a single moment of breathing space, neither can we unknowingly add oil to his fire, and allow him to tear us limb by limb.”
“What plans do you have in mind?” King Lu asked. The eunuch paused to consider before speaking out, “My King, this palace has lost two of it’s deputy eunuchs, and more than ten Black Robed soldiers. To lose the soldiers is one thing, but the loss of two deputy eunuchs is a great deal. Come to think of it, this person’s intuition is unnaturally good. He must have someone helping him from behind. I suspect it’s a person belonging to the Crown Prince.”
“If we don’t have a capable Daoist on our side to assist with the soldiers in suppressing his Dao arts, it would be very difficult to trap him ever again.”
“This person’s martial arts flow throughout his entire body in such a remarkable manner, that is completely different from his forebears who we’ve slained easily. In fact, a person like that is extremely scary to deal with. My King should also know about the horrifying incident at Chang Ping?”
He then handed another piece of document, “This was copied from the files of the previous dynasty.”
King Lu laughed, “What’s so horrifying about it? This person has a family, and sect members to look after. Won’t he be afraid that harm might come onto them as well? Can the Crown Prince really protect all of them?”
He then looked at the document. The minute his eyes laid upon the words, his face turned pale. The eunuch then spoke out, “Although Pei Zi Yun does have family, the only person close to him is his mother. As for his sect members, they are not very close to him, and might not be compelling enough to him.”
“In the previous dynasty, and the dynasty before that, we’ve learnt that a Daoist who’s lost everything, and was capable in both martial arts and Dao arts is an intimidating enemy.”
“My King, the officials belonging to the Imperial Court have the protection of the Imperial Qi upon them, and would thus be hard to be attacked by Dao arts. What if a Daoist official doesn’t have any loved ones or followers, and his rank is low enough to want a promotion, and would be willing to risk his life?”
“He would then be more than willing to give up his life for the pursuit of a promotion.”
“Pei Zi Yun killed countless of people in Ying, Yong, and Liang Prefectures. He doesn’t belong to the group of inflexible Daoists we so often see. After doing whatever he did today, the only payment for him would be death. We should lure him into a location, and kill him in one fell swoop, not allowing him to continue his rampage.”
King Lu was a man well versed in military knowledge. He then knew of the dire consequences of a crazed Daoist killing anyone who opposed him. He then sat down gloomily in his chair. After some time, he then spoke out, “I didn’t expect that a single Daoist could cause so much damage. No wonder even the previous dynasty didn’t know how to get rid of them whenever they came up.”
King Lu had originally found it strange that the previous dynasty wouldn’t just wipe out the entire Daoist cultivators. After reading the records, he finally understood why. If the Imperial Court did anything like that, the Daoist would just abandon all laws and go on a mad massacre. There were even such instances of Daoists going on crazed rampages, killing innocent civilians by poison. There were even records of a Daoist killing an entire county by himself. At last, he was struck dead by divine intervention of the heavens.
They both stared silently at each other. After some time, the eunuch spoke out, “My King, do not be too troubled by this. Even if a Daoist lost everything, and has nothing more to lose, it would be hard for him to harm a royal person. If King Lu wishes to kill him, there has to be a way. At last, a Daoist is unable to overcome such a great tidal wave by himself.”
“Throughout history, there has been no instance of a fifth rank official being deployed to kill Daoists. Maybe we can do that.”
King Lu had been frowning the entire duration of their conversation. At last, he relaxed and spoke out, “You really do know the intents of my heart. Find out where Pei Zi Yun is. For now, we should just watch him. That’s it.”
Someone acknowledged his orders. King Lu then picked up the piece of document and sighed, “Every ten steps, he slays a man, a thousand steps he takes, showing no mercy. After the matter had been settled and concluded, he flicked his sleeves and walked away, not giving a hint to his identity. Although this was written by an enemy of his, he couldn’t help but sigh in admiration of his work. Whatever he wrote sounded like a message of provocation, but it also sounded like a warning not to make another attempt on his life. This man is really mysterious.”
When King Lu finished speaking, he dropped the matter about Pei Zi Yun and said, “This man has ruined the reputation of King Lu, and didn’t show me any face. Do you think as this big brother of the nation, I would just rest? I’ve tolerated him for far too long.”
“My King, although all the high ranking officials have been praising his literary works, he’s actually a selfish and timid man, who doesn’t dare to take risks. To be more precise, he’s good at being soft, but not good at being steadfast. Whatever success he’s had thus far, he relied on the strengths of others. My King shouldn’t be too worried about Pei Zi Yun being used regularly by the Crown Prince.”
“These words shows how much you know the worries of my heart.” King Lu nodded his head before thinking of something. He then spoke out, “I will reward when reward is due, and punish when punishment is due. Go down below, and take out two hundred taels of silver for yourself. Just remember the lesson you learnt today, and don’t repeat your mistakes.”
“Yes, your majesty. Your humble subject will remember.” The eunuch bowed as he acknowledged.
Crown Prince Palace
Several torches moulded in the shape of animals were brightly ablaze. Behind a screen, the Royal Concubine was carrying her toddler. The toddler looked at her mother, and opened his mouth. His face resembled that of a baby monkey, but much more adorable. His two eyes were looking around as he mumbled words, as if he was trying to say something.
The Royal Concubine looked at her son. This was the grandson of the Emperor. Initially the Crown Prince had been heirless. Now he could finally heave a sigh of relief at finally having a son. He was in a much better position than before, but it still wasn’t good enough!
She held a piece of paper in her hands and said, “My son, mother will help you fight all the way. I have this feeling that Top Scorer Pei will become a noble person, tied to both you and I.”
“Aiya aiya!” The baby stretched out his hands, as if he was trying to send a message across. Looking at her adorable son, the Royal Concubine laughed, as she extended a hand, and held onto his tiny fingers. She then mumbled, “Son, you think so too?”