When Chen Xing was thinking about how to politely decline, Wang Ziye continued, “The Chen family should not have encountered the calamity it did. War had broken out in Jinyang then, plunging the people into misery and suffering, and too many people died in that disaster.”
Fu Jian sighed and said to Chen Xing, “It was Zhen’s fault.”
Chen Xing understood now. Fu Jian’s intention was to apologise to him, but his parents and family were all gone now, so of what use was an apology?
“The dead can’t come back to life,” Chen Xing thought about it, then said, “I’ve been studying in seclusion over the years and have long since gotten over it.”
Fu Jian nodded, and for a moment the study was silent. Finally, Wang Ziye got up to take his leave and said, “I’ll go take a look at the list of names for spring. 48 names of Confucian scholars have been sent over to be recommended for a xiaolian examination.”
So Fu Jian got up and said, “Zhen won’t send you out then; it just so happens that I can take the time to reminisce about old times with this little friend here.”
Obtaining the favour of an emperor was the ultimate wish of all civil and martial officials, but Chen Xing didn’t feel that flattered. It was just that he didn’t come to Chang’an to seek a place for himself, and he was even less afraid of offending Fu Jian. Furthermore, there was a distinction between Hus and Hans, so they could never really get close to each other.
When Wang Ziye turned away, he cast a meaningful glance at Chen Xing.
“Why is His Majesty looking for me?” Chen Xing took the initiative to ask.
Affairs from the previous night were still stifling him, and Chen Xing needed some time to sort them out from scratch. Leads for the General Administration of the Exorcism Department were cut off just like that, and he had parted on bad terms with the Feng brothers as well. Who was the assassin who had hunted him afterwards? Did the Feng family send it to kill him? Or was it the secret masterminds who were manipulating the “drought fiends”?
Fu Jian said earnestly, “First of all, I wanted to thank you for saving our Great Chanyu.”
Chen Xing quickly declined modestly, saying that he didn’t deserve the praise and that he had just done it in passing. Fu Jian asked Chen Xing why he ran all the way to Xiangyang City. After last night’s incident, Chen Xing had a vague sense that he was out in the open while his enemies were in the dark, so it was a little dangerous for him. In addition, Yuwen Xin had already publicised his identity to people both within and beyond the palace, so he was a bit more cautious now and said that he was just passing by Xiangyang when he was trapped and couldn’t leave.
Fu Jian wasn’t someone who would insist on getting to the root of the matter. Chen Xing observed his expression; evidently, Fu Jian just readily believed whatever he said. Fu Jian asked Chen Xing what kind of books he read and whether he could write essays. Chen Xing answered honestly, “Studied medicine for a few years. I’m ashamed, I can only treat people and did not study much about writing essays or governance.”
Fu Jian smiled and said with deep meaning, “A few days ago, I couldn’t resist the itch to spar with Great Chanyu, but I’m old after all, and my shoulders feel stiff now. Just perform some acupuncture on me now then.”
Chen Xing, “……”
Without waiting for Fu Jian’s orders, a palace attendant had already delivered some needles and stones. Chen Xing thought about it, then cheerfully said, “Okay then.”
Fu Jian took off his imperial robe that covered half his body, revealing his muscular, bare back. He lay face down on the couch in front of the table, and Chen Xing came and sat over. He fetched a silver needle and after burning it over a fire, he started an acupuncture treatment for Fu Jian.
Aside from his titles as “Emperor Qin”, “Divine King”, “Lord of the North”, Fu Jian had another resounding title — “the number one martial artist of the Great Qin Dynasty”. Rumours has it that to the north of Huaihe River, Fu Jian was the leader of all martial artists, and most who fought him were dead. However, Chen Xing had no doubt at all that Xiang Shu had the strength to defeat Fu Jian.
Because he discovered a small bruise near Fu Jian’s heart — it was obviously a wound left behind after getting hit by a scabbard. If it had been a sword, then this move would have taken Fu Jian’s life. Fu Jian might not be able to beat Xiang Shu—— Chen Xing thought that Xiang Shu wins in his monstrous speed; amongst all martial arts in the world, only speed could not be beaten. No matter how brave and fierce Fu Jian is, he may not be able to ward off Xiang Shu’s moves that were as quick as lightning strikes.
“When I met you for the first time that night,” Fu Jian lay sprawled as he casually said, “I knew that it was impossible for you to be Shulü Kong‘s servant. You’re a scholar, and just like them, you have the temperament of a scholar.”
Chen Xing smiled, “I’m really not like them, His Majesty has misjudged me.”
Chen Xing was speaking the truth, he wasn’t trying to be modest. Although it was part of his family’s tradition, after escaping from Jinyang, Chen Xing was unlike an ordinary Confucian scholar who would painstakingly study the Four Books and Five Classics, or study the way of governance written by Dong Zhongshu and other former sages. What he usually read were supernatural stories of the world, folklore and local customs, astronomy, geography, and other such subjects. Most of these belonged to the “miscellaneous studies” category, and were areas of study looked down upon by Confucian scholars. The Hundred Schools of Thought was only useful for assisting rulers, so he didn’t learn much about it.
On the contrary, teachings of Confucius and Mencius were the natural enemies of exorcists. As the saying goes, Confucius does not talk about strange phenomena, courage, rebellions, and supernatural beings. Confucius has even said before that, “If one can not even deal with problems of the human world, then how could one discuss the affairs of spirits and gods?” It could be seen that Confucian scholars were strongly opposed to the “fantasy world” familiar to exorcists and instead advocated a focus on the “present world”.
“You remind me of someone.”
Fu Jian’s eyes were closed as he said slowly, “A Han.”
Chen Xing inserted a needle in the lower third region of his nape. At this moment, as long as he stabbed the Fengfu acupoint on the back of Fu Jian’s head with a needle and push it three inches in, Fu Jian would die on the spot.
He didn’t know why a supreme ruler would dare leave his life in the hands of others. With this one stab of his needle, he would certainly be able to accomplish the great revenge that Feng Qianyi constantly had on his mind.
But Chen Xing didn’t do that. Even though he was under the protection of Iupitter, the other party had the guardianship of the Emperor Star too. If he really did stab Fu Jian, and his Iupitter and the Emperor Star started fighting, no one could know for certain who would win or lose.
“Have you met my father before?” Chen Xing asked.
“No,” Fu Jian answered, still keeping his eyes closed, “I’ve only heard of him a lot. But the one Zhen’s thinking about is called Wang Meng. He died a year ago.”
A few years ago, Wang Meng was the top brain of Fu Jian’s government. He assisted Fu Jian in defeating his number one enemy, Heng Wen, then established a setup where the Qin and Jin dynasties governed separate areas, and helped him come up with a scheme to overthrow the ruthless and bloodthirsty Fu Sheng, the previous emperor. Many decrees were promulgated in the Qin Dynasty to promote the status of the Han people, and he often reminded Fu Jian that the strength of the Hans was required in order to lay a strong foundation for future generations as well. If he relied solely on the Di tribe and the Hus beyond the pass, they would just be digging their own graves and perish within a hundred years.
When Wang Meng was alive, Great Qin was like a swift carriage that swept away the degeneration and shabby image of the Jin Dynasty. The more wars they fought, the braver they got, and they were never routed for at least ten years, and Fu Jian became a rarely seen God of War. The Qin Dynasty then became the most vibrant country in the world.
Fu Jian often compared Wang Meng to Zhuge Liang and regarded him as his closest confidante. However, Wang Meng only lived until he was fifty before passing away, and when he died, Fu Jian suffered a great blow. His temples turned frosty white, and it took him more than a year before he could gradually get over it.
“Un.” But Chen Xing was thinking about something else.
“Wang Ziye, who you saw just now,” Fu Jian said, “Is one of his distant younger cousins.”
“Oh?” Chen Xing inserted another needle and had inserted more than ten needles into Fu Jian’s back.
Fu Jian continued muttering to himself, “You don’t look like Jinglüe at all, but for some reason, Zhen started thinking about him as soon as I saw you……”
“Perhaps,” Chen Xing finished his acupuncture treatment and smiled at Fu Jian, “It is because Wang Meng is my Shixiong. We studied under the same Shifu.”
A realisation dawned upon Fu Jian, then burst into a hearty laughter. He didn’t doubt Chen Xing’s words at all and said repeatedly, “So that’s why, so that’s why!”
Chen Xing explained, “Ever since I started studying under my Shifu, I’ve only seen Shixiong twice, and we didn’t speak much to each other either. The first time was in the fifth year after the state was founded……”
Fu Jian said, “Yes. That year, before Jinglüe helped me defeat Heng Wen, he went back to Mt. Hua once.”
Chen Xing uttered an, “un”, then continued, “And the other was in the sixth year after the state was founded.”
Fu Jian said, “Jinglüe and I bid farewell at Bashang, attacked the Xianbei Murong clan and defeated the enemy.”
These were the only two occasions where Chen Xing had the chance to meet his eldest Shixiong, Wang Meng, because when Wang Meng was confronted with the arrival of the Divine Land’s Mandate of Heaven, he found it difficult to come up with a strategy, so he returned to Mt. Hua to seek enlightenment from his Shifu. In Chen Xing’s memories, his eldest Shixiong was a sanguine and carefree person, and he treated him very kindly as well. But he was too young then, so he couldn’t remember much and only remembered fragments of the conversations between his Shixiong and Shifu.
“Your Majesty, don’t move,” Chen Xing pressed down on Fu Jian’s back as he said, “There are still a few needles.”
“Fellow disciples na.” After Fu Jian listened to Chen Xing’s explanation, he seemed pensive as he said, “Your Shifu has already passed away, what a pity. Then, do you already have an engagement with Zhen’s Great Chanyu? The two of you are appropriately matched after all.”
Chen Xing, “……”
Fu Jian, “G……gentler.”
“Your Majesty,” Chen Xing said in a threatening voice and came a little closer, “I am not, familiar, with, him. We aren’t even friends!”
Why does every single person think that he has some kind of unspeakable relationship with Xiang Shu??!! Chen Xing has thoroughly lost his temper now, don’t tell him it’s because Xiang Shu took him into the palace? But after considering it carefully, he is Xiang Shu’s benefactor, and Xiang Shu did bring him all the way to Chang’an from a thousand miles away, so it’s no wonder that Fu Jian would misunderstand their relationship at the start.
Fu Jian said, “Wu. If you’re not, then you’re not, don’t be rash.”
Chen Xing finished with the last two needles and said, “It’s done. Your Majesty, don’t move.”
Fu Jian continued, “Since you’re Jinglüe’s junior brother, you must have left your Master and come to Chang’an to settle down, right? What do you think of the Great Qin?”
Chen Xing packed up his things simply, sat down at one side and answered, “I’m just passing by, I’ll have to leave soon.”
Fu Jian was suddenly a little surprised and asked, “Where do you want to go?”
Chen Xing shrugged and smiled, “I don’t know.”
Fu Jian lay sprawled as he turned his head slightly sideways. He asked again, “Do you have an arrangement with Shulü Kong?”
Chen Xing, “I have nothing to do with him, Your Majesty.”
Fu Jian was afraid of Chen Xing messing with him again, so he quickly said, “Okay okay, we won’t talk about that first.” After pondering for a moment, he asked, “Chen Tianchi, what do you think of Princess Qinghe’s cousin, my Mounted Regular Attendant, the kid called Tuoba Yan?”
Outside the study, Tuoba Yan coughed awkwardly.
Chen Xing, “……”
“Your Majesty,” Chen Xing said sincerely, “As the emperor, you have a lot of matters to deal with every day. Why would you be so idle as to act as a matchmaker for me? And you’re even trying to matchmake me with a guy?”
Fu Jian said, “Great Chanyu and the Tuoba kid are both Zhen’s good brothers. Is there a problem for me to discuss my brothers’ marriage affairs on their behalf?”
“No.” Chen Xing immediately changed his tune, “But even if you do want to act as a matchmaker you should find a girl ba!”
Fu Jian laughed again and explained, “When autumn comes this year, Zhen will issue a new decree: all men in the world can get married to one another, so they need not be bound by propriety any longer.”
“I’ve heard of it.” Chen Xing was bored stiff as he said, “But I……”
Fu Jian made a gesture and interrupted him, “Ignore how that Tuoba kid seems so low profile on a normal day; a man of great wisdom often appears slow-witted, he is in fact very intelligent. As a youngster, he occasionally makes mistakes when it comes to minor affairs, that can’t be helped, but he has never been careless with what’s important. If you’re willing to marry him, it would be a good and wonderful match, and why don’t you stay in the court from then on to serve me? Together with Yan’er, one of you proficient in literary arts while the other in martial arts, and your marriage will be approved personally by Zhen……”
Chen Xing, “I……”
Chen Xing kind of wanted to take advantage of the fact that Fu Jian couldn’t move with the needles in him to slap him, but he suddenly thought, that’s not right. If commoners get the chance to have a marriage partner picked out by the emperor and get married to the most favoured commander of the entire army who’s a rank 4 military officer, young, talented, and handsome, what kind of great fortune would that be?! No matter how prestigious his family background was, he was merely a commoner right now. Besides, it wasn’t just about being a commoner or not; even if one was the child of an official, one should naturally shed tears of gratitude as soon as Fu Jian gives his word. What reason could one have to refuse him?
Chen Xing took a deep breath and smiled, “We’re both men……”
Fu Jian, “That’s right then, so why act so bashful? What we want is a straightforward answer. In our Di people’s homeland……”
“What I meant was, we’re both men, so even if we do want to get married, we shouldn’t use the word ‘marry’ ba!” Chen Xing was on the verge of flipping a table, “Why can’t he be the one marrying me?!”
Though Fu Jian was interrupted by Chen Xing, he wasn’t the least bit angry and just said, “If you’re willing to enter my court as an official, assist Zhen in unifying the world and ruling over it and let Zhen see just how capable you are, as well as assume an official post of at least a rank 3 and above, Zhen will marry Tuoba Yan to you. Where’s the harm in that?”
Chen Xing, “No no no, that’s not what I meant……”
Fu Jian, “Why don’t you ask Yan’er, if he’s willing to……”
Chen Xing, “No! Wait! Your Majesty!”
Chen Xing heard Tuoba Yan, who was guarding the study outside, cough again and immediately cut off Fu Jian desperately. If Tuoba Yan actually said, “okay”, then a king’s words have to be taken seriously, what’s done cannot be undone, and he wouldn’t be able to go back on his words anymore.
“To tell you the truth,” Chen Xing could only answer Fu Jian seriously, “It’s not a question of who should marry who. Your Majesty, there’s something……”
“The Great Chanyu has arrived.” Tuoba Yan, who was outside, suddenly said aloud.
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), kee.