Chapter 184 – Obtaining an Imperial Tile
King Lu’s Palace
The sky was getting dark as a serving maid carried some tea and reached the door. A eunuch who was standing guard at the door whispered to her, “Xiao Qing, when you go in, please be careful. His majesty is not in a good mood, please don’t incur his wrath. Several people have already been punished. If not, you wouldn’t have been called to serve tea.”
The serving maid was about fifteen or sixteen years old and tied her hair up in a bun. After hearing the instructions given to her by the eunuch, her smile evaporated and was replaced by a certain nervousness. She looked grateful too, “Thank you.”
The serving maid took the tea into the main hall. King Lu’s face was cold as he sat up straight in his seat. Below him, Eunuch Liao who looked very tired was seated down as well. The serving maid took the tea and placed it before King Lu and Eunuch Liao.
King Lu swept a glance at the serving maid before him, as she held her breath in fear. She could feel sweat beads forming on her body. However, King Lu looked at her for a second and didn’t say anything before looking away. She then exhaled in relief. When she walked out, she thanked the eunuch at the door once more before leaving.
Within the hall, King Lu didn’t touch the tea. He removed the lid from the top of the teacup and paused there, clearly deep in thought. Eunuch Liao who was seated below King Lu started taking several sips from the cup before placing it by the side. He didn’t speak too. The entire hall was silent and was extremely tense.
Before long, King Lu then placed the lid back atop the cup and asked, “Have you investigated Zhou Ji thoroughly? Was it my big brother who made him impeach me, or did my big brother influence him in anyway?”
Eunuch Liao had a long nose and hazy eyes. There were several wrinkles across his forehead. Hearing this question, he replied, “Your majesty, we’ve already conducted a thorough check. There are no links to the Crown Prince. We’ve also installed some people within the Crown Prince’s Palace and there’s been no movement recently. Nobody visited or met with him to plan something like this.”
King Lu stretched out a hand as a finger rapped the table in a rhythmn. He hesitated for some time before asking once more, “Before Zhou Ji charged me with the offense, did he meet with anyone strange or suspicious? This impeachment makes me feel very uneasy. Why would anyone randomly and suddenly charge me for violating the rules?”
When Eunuch Liao heard this, his eyes squinted, “Your majesty, Zhou Ji is known to be very obstinate and upright. He’s a sixth ranked official. Your majesty, what should we do? Should we dispatch our people to handle this matter?”
King Lu hesitated once again before looking at the eunuch, “It’s really not influenced by the Crown Prince?”
King Lu looked worried and anxious.
“Yes, your majesty. We’ve already checked properly. The Crown Prince didn’t have a hand in this since Zhou Ji isn’t his man, and there are no connections between them.”
King Lu felt like something wasn’t right, as his suspicions filled the air. The sound of the falling rain could be heard from within the hall. King Lu’s thoughts and emotions were a mess, and his head hurted. “Under such a situation it would be most disadvantageous for us to kill him. Let him go for now. We shall act on this some time later. If not, the entire dynasty will be speaking poorly of me.”
He sounded very tired.
At this point, an announcement was made that butler Qing requested an audience. He then shouted out irritably, “Enter!”
Butler Qing strode in as King Lu held his head in his hands and looked at butler Qing, “What do you wish to report?”
Butler Qing then knelt down, “Your majesty. I just received a report from the guards that Dark Altar Sect has sent several Daoist here and is waiting for your majesty to grant them an audience. This humble subject then hurriedly came to report the matter. One more thing, there are two contract officials who wants to resign on medical grounds.”
“What? Someone wants to leave because of medical reasons?” King Lu stood up in anger. Realizing that King Lu had stood up, the butler who was kneeling down looked down in order to not show his expression.
King Lu took several steps and cleared his throat, “What medical reasons. Could it be that they’ve lost their confidence in me after seeing that I’ve been fined three thousand gold taels by the Emperor and are afraid of being implicated in future? Is that why they’ve decided to flee from me?”
As soon as he finished speaking, King Lu paused in shock. He realized that his perception and mood had been poor as of late. He then wondered what was wrong with him. Clearly distracted, he asked, “Which contract officials?”
Butler Qing then replied, “Your majesty they are Ren Wei and Zhao Xu Ting. Both of them wish to leave stating poor health.”
King Lu mouthed their names silently, trying to recall if he knew their faces but realized he was completely clueless about their identities. He then realized that they probably weren’t the most talented officials around. He gave a cold laugh, “These men are like grass which gets swayed by the wind easily. No matter, let them go and give them ten taels of silver for their work. But record their names down. We have no use for people who flee at the first sign of trouble. Send my orders down that people like these must never be allowed to come back. Use this rule to handle all the contractual officials. Do they take me for a charitable organization? To come and leave as and when they please.”
As soon as King Lu finished, he felt a random burst of anxiety in his mind before settling down slowly into his seat. He then instructed, “Let the people from Dark Altar Sect enter.”
Butler Qing hurriedly replied, “Yes, your majesty.”
He then retreated and walked down the corridors until he reached a greenhouse. He then noticed a pair of Daoist. They were both younger than forty years old. Although they were in King Lu’s Palace, they didn’t look the least intimidated or afraid. They waved their fans casually and admired the scenery. When they heard the sound of footsteps, they cast their glances around.
When butler Qing realized he had been noticed, he jumped in fright. These were the men of Dark Altar Sect. Butler Qing then noticed two other person approaching him. He looked at them in distaste and apparent dislike. They were the pair of contract officials who wanted to resign. He then turned away from them to face the Daoists, “Daoist leaders, his majesty is waiting for the both of you in the main hall. Please follow me.”
The pair of Daoists who were waiting in the greenhouse looked at Ren Wei in surprise before turning to face the butler, “Lead the way.”
Butler Qing didn’t even seem to notice or care about the pair of contract officials who wanted to terminate their own services. Zhao Xu Ting wanted to speak to him but realized that he looked at them with disgust before turning away to lead the pair of Daoists away.
Zhao Xu Ting’s face turned red as he cursed under his breath, “You’re just a mere butler. What do you have to be so proud about?”
Ren Wei then sighed. He was somewhat anxious as he pulled Zhao Xu Ting, “Brother Zhao, let’s not speak more than we have to. If butler Zhao hears this and refuses to let us resign and forces us to stay on, he will make life difficult for us and our following days will be difficult.”
“In other words, if a person who claims to have fallen sick were to die under mysterious circumstances, who would actually investigate if the reason for his death was due to the illness.”
“Since we’ve already declared ourselves medically unfit to serve further, we’re already considered outsiders. It’s normal that we’re being treated coldly.”
Zhao Xu Ting’s face turned redder but he didn’t speak. After some time passed, he then regained he usual composure.
The pair of Daoist entered the hall and bowed, “Respects to King Lu, your majesty.”
Seeing the pair of Daoists, King Lu let out a smile, “Dispense with ceremony Daoist leaders.”
“King Lu, the last time Eunuch Ding contacted us, he asked us to help and take down Pei Zi Yun. Our Sect Leader thus instructed us to provide assistance.” One of them spoke out as he surveyed the surroundings.
Hearing these words, King Lu sighed, “It’s good that you’re here. It’s a pity however that Eunuch Ding has died, and wouldn’t be able to meet you.”
One of the Daoists was clearly shocked, “Eunuch Ding has died?”
King Lu’s expression fell, “Yes, Pei Zi Yun killed him. After searching for such a long time, we haven’t managed to find out where Pei Zi Yun fled to. Do you have any ideas?”
“If you really wish to locate him, it would be difficult but we can still take drastic actions to locate him.” The Elder looked at King Lu, “Pei Zi Yun belongs to Free Cloud Sect. Why don’t we attack or better, destroy the entire sect. This way, even the heavens can feel the effects of our actions. This way, all the sects in the world will know better than to cross your majesty. Once an obstacle arises, we get rid of it. We can lay a trap or ambush for him after to kill him.”
‘You’re trying to use my strength and capabilities to attack Free Cloud Sect? You wish to borrow my swords to kill someone else. Indeed you’re cunning.’ King Lu felt a certain sense of clarity as he thought without speaking out. He just nodded his head and smiled. He then retrieved the lid of the teacup and shook the water droplets off it, “I can help you in the dark, discreetly. I’ve been reprimanded by the Emperor and thus will not be able to directly command my troops towards your cause. I can assist in the form of information and intelligence, and can even block off any crimes you might commit. Besides, your sect has received a title from the dynasty before as well.”
“There’s no need for that. All I need is for you to give us a warrant, but it has to bear your majesty’s imperial seal.” A Daoist bowed as he requested.
‘You wish to take my sign of authority and good fortunes?’
In this world, after having fought countless of battles, such matters weren’t foreign to King Lu. He thought for some time before replying, “I can’t give you a warrant. But I can give you a tile.”
As he finished his sentence, he waved his hand and a servant appeared immediately bearing a tray which contained a single dazzling tile. When the Daoist picked up the tile to examine it, he saw that there were two words inscribed on it, “King Lu”.
“Many thanks your majesty.” Although the pair of Daoist looked dissatisfied, they still bowed anyway. The few of them continued discussing several affairs before the Daoists bade farewell and walked out through the door.
Once they were outside, the Daoist on the right turned around and chuckled.
The other Daoist turned around as well and looked at the high and majestic palace which they had just left. The entire blocks of buildings stood out ostentatiously from the forests which surrounded it. Occasionally, a gleam of gold reflected the light from the sun into their eyes. But it was very normal for a royalty to live in such lofty accommodations. He turned curious and asked, “What are you laughing about? What’s wrong?”
“We’re trained to read people’s destinies. You know that art too. Just now while we were waiting, there were two other men present. One of them had a tremendous destiny. Looks like King Lu is really fortunate to have such people working with him.”
“What’s so strange about that? Our master already divined that King Lu will be able to ascend the throne, which is why we’re showing our support for him at this point. Our master saw a dragon and a tiger alongside him. It’s thus very normal that he should have capable people with extremely good fortunes around him.” The Daoist on the left then continued, “But for matters regarding the palace, we as Daoists shouldn’t intervene or meddle. One look and we knew that the man with good fortunes was just a contract based official. If we were to recommend him to King Lu and explain how advantageous it would be to promote him to a permanent and higher ranked position, it might ruin the flow of things. Besides, King Lu might think that we’re trying to plant him within his courts. This might cause his career to stall, since King Lu won’t be able to trust someone he thinks is our spy. Doing this will cause King Lu to detest and be wary of us, don’t you think?”
The Daoist on the right sighed and chuckled, “That’s why we must not meddle with such affairs. Everything we do, must be for the benefit of our sect. Right, when you saw King Lu just now, what did you see in him? It seems like our Patriarch’s vision of his destiny is different from whatever I noticed.”
The Daoist on the left fell deep into thought before exhaling deeply, “King Lu has the Imperial Qi protecting him, which made it difficult to see clearly. But I understand what you mean when you caught a glimpse of his destiny and realized it didn’t tally to whatever we heard about him. But this isn’t conclusive, we have to return and take a closer look.”
As he spoke he scrutinized the palace from afar, “All the individual indicators of destiny aren’t conclusive of a person’s actual destiny. Rather, it’s the collective that matters. His entire compound has extremely good Feng Shui. Although you and I both know that Feng Shui is just a small part of the entire picture, once a person’s overall destiny is lost or has turned bad, no matter how good the Feng Shui of his surroundings are, it won’t matter. I could feel a slight sense that good fortunes and destiny is slipping away. Or maybe there’s been an overall change in his destiny.”
“But this doesn’t have much relation to our cause. I just have this slight suspicions about everything. For example, every single Paradise was created by the forces of heaven and earth and required a specific type of destiny and fortune to enter. Without any of these, a person wouldn’t be able to own it regardless of how talented he is.”
“Especially the Paradises which already belonged to an owner, it would belong to that one owner for all time and work only for him. Hence, even if we manage to take over the Paradises belonging to other sects, our destinies might not be in sync with those particular Paradises and we would never truly own it. It will then just be another cave without any special energy or Qi for us. If we send our disciples over to that stolen Paradise, all the little energy remaining will fade out within several generations.”
“There were several sects which invaded the Paradises of other sects. After doing that, they realized that all the effort wasn’t worth it, as the Paradises couldn’t provide energy for them. That’s why sects stopped invading Paradises belonging to other sects. Why are our seniors and masters planning on doing that now?”
The Daoist on the left asked suspiciously as the other Daoist shook his head, “I’m not sure myself. But I’m sure the higher ups have their reasons.”