This chapter has been brought to you by me, and larkspur.
Chapter 56: Attack of the Heart
The first glimmer of early dawn saw a hawksbill suddenly pull its wings in and drop down like a rock from the sky. Once at a certain height, it suddenly spread its wings again, and glided at astounding speed. It seemed to brush against yellow roofs as it flew deep into the Changling imperial palace.
There were naturally not many hawksbills that would fly in such a terrifying manner. The Qin imperial palace was a place difficult for birds to enter. The cultivators guarding the imperial palace would not allow the avians to do as they pleased above the palace.
Yet, the feathers of this hawksbill were vermillion red, a color that would not occur naturally.
Every cultivator of the Qin imperial palace knew that this hawksbill came from the emperor’s personal attendant.
In the Grand Secretariat, four old members of the secretariat waited with excitement and anxiousness.
Three days ago, the Deer Mountain Conference came to a close. These three days, news concerning the event had constantly streamed into the imperial palace. Adding on that Mo Shoucheng and Pan Ruoye had returned, the elders of the Secretariat, a position just below the two ministers, knew of the Qin Dynasty’s glorious victory at the Deer Mountain Conference.
But the news had yet to reach most of Changling. They were still waiting for news of the Deer Mountain Conference.
However, the ‘when to announce the news’ and ‘how to announce the news’ were awaiting decision from the Holy One.
What would Changling be like once the news promulgated?
They had learned that Minister Li had followed the Holy One to Deer Mountain. The empress and Minister Yan had gone to Yangshan Commandery. At this time, they should be on their way back. From a certain perspective, Changling was an empty city at this time.
Word of the outcome had finally reached these few who had been waiting excitedly and anxiously. Not long after the hawksbill flew into the imperial palace, an official of the rites came in with a bright yellow brocade cloth.
The four elder secretariats started to write furiously. Orders constantly left the imperial palace.
Loud calls echoed through the deep palace.
Waves of joyful surprise and cheers sounded. Changling started to boil over.
As the astounding news was proclaimed, the weight pressing down on Changling was completely swept away.
The hoe of a farmer hit his foot, the knife of a chef cut his finger, the laborer on the board fell into the river between two ships … almost being in Changling was in chaos. Almost everybody put down what they were doing, and started to flood the streets, cheering ‘Long Live the Emperor.”
The powerful Qin army had taken back Yangshan Commandery. Not just Yangshan Commandery, even the Wu and Deer mountains that were between the Qin and the Chu now belonged to the Qin. This was truly a cheer that the entire country turned out for.
Even the addicted gamblers of Changling’s underground casinos left the dim secret casinos. As they saw the light of day, their eyes tearing up from the pain, they heard the news. Excited, their minds grew slightly clearer. When they thought of what they had lost recently in the casinos and what they had done, these gamblers started to cry.
For once, these underground gambling dens were remarkably deserted and peaceful.
In a certain quiet room, deep in one of the secret casinos, Zhao Si, still dressed like a man, listened to the cheers. Hearing the cries of the gamblers on the streets outside, she could not help but think of her master. The person who had created the Zhao Sword Furnace with his own power, and stopped the Qin from entering the city just by himself.
At this time, she felt exceedingly helpless.
Even during the new year, there were never loud sounds such as this cheer. Perhaps, such a thing had never occurred in the history of Qin.
The resonating cheers shook the dust off the eaves. They passed into many quiet places, even the streets and the water of the Wei River trembled slightly.
Inside a cell of the well-guarded Great Floating Water Prison, some black chains were locked around a person who did not look like a person. The water, up to his chest, was black but emitted a strange silver light. The black chains grew haphazardly like seagrass, passing through the water around his body, but never making contact at any point.
Yet these black chains were powerful seal scripts, securely locking down this space. The great power could even change the substance of the water here.
The water was so cold it pierced the bones. His hair was twisted together like rags that had not been washed for years. It was so long it covered half of his body and stretched into the water. His skin, that was occasionally exposed out of the water, was covered in all kinds of rashes. It was not possible to see any flesh and blood, as though there was only bone underneath the skin.
This kind of appearance was not like a human. But he made people feel he was human because his presence was human.
Some people, regardless of how they changed in looks, even if their features were blurry, their presence was enough to make people feel he was more human than most humans.
“I do not understand. What are you waiting for?”
Shen Xuan was standing on one of the stepping stones beside the water. He looked down at the stones by his feet, and slowly said, “Waiting for today for such a result. Are you satisfied?”
No news could enter this cell. Shen Xuan had not mentioned any news concerning Deer Mountain Conference to this person, but he knew, just based on some sounds and vibrations, this person would know what had happened. Because this person was publicly accepted as the top strategist of the world, the smartest person in the world.
He was Lin Zhujiu.
“Come closer. I will tell you if I am satisfied today.”
A teasing voice sounded from the water and entered Shen Xuan’s ears.
Shen Xuan’s brows rose slightly. He looked up slightly at the person in the water, but did not step forward on the stepping stone.
“You do not even dare to take a step forward. You worry about falling for a scheme of mine, but still want to use this opportunity to disturb my mind.” Lin Zhujiu, who did not appear like a person but a weed growing in the water yet felt like a person, laughed. “Do you not find this amusing?”
Shen Xuan thought for a moment and said, “It is amusing, but I am on the stone, and you are in the water.”
Lin Zhujiu smiled and said, “That was then, this is now. Maybe one day, you will be in the water, and I will be looking at you from above.”
Shen Xuan narrowed his eyes and said, “Is that possible?”
Lin Zhujiu nodded seriously and said, “It should be very soon.”
Shen Xuan’s pupils contracted slightly and he did not make any noise.
“I’ve only heard prisoners being frightened by their guards, and never the other way round.” Lin Zhujiu laughed again. “But today, I am in a good mood, and can tell you some things.”
Shen Xuan looked with an ugly expression at Lin Zhujiu. He had been in Great Floating Water Prison for so many years and understood Lin Zhujiu well. Of course, he would not think that Lin Zhujiu would tell him anything useful.
Yet, Lin Zhujiu spoke, “Li Lingjun’s establishment is finished.”
Shen Xuan’s breathing suddenly stopped. His eyes immediately shone with unusual light.
“If you send an army to protect Li Lingjun’s establishment, it may be in time. Otherwise, Li Lingjun’s establishment will completely disappear from Changling today.” Lin Zhujiu continued slowly. “No matter what kind of victory Yuanwu obtained at Deer Mountain, the establishment of a Chu hostage cannot be destroyed at a word. They just made the agreement. One has to give the three dynasties face.”
Shen Xuan’s eyes narrowed into a line. He said coldly, “Who would destroy Li Lingjun’s establishment at this time?”
Lin Zhujiu moved slightly, glancing at Shen Xuan and said, “Yangshan Commandery, for most people of Changling, is not just a humiliation, but also great hatred. You should not have forgotten that most of the Qin soldiers that died in that battle came from Changling and Guanzhong.”
“What victory brings is venting.”
Lin Zhujiu laughed after a brief pause continued. “When one feels they are not as strong as their opponent, their venting will be restrained. But when they feel their opponent is defeated, this kind of venting will be out of control.”
Shen Xuan thought carefully about the words, and felt his back turn cold. But he still shook his head. “This has nothing to do with my duties.”
Lin Zhujiu’s voice was filled with amusement. “From the start, I diverted your thoughts … you were led by me. You heard me say that Li Lingjun’s establishment will be destroyed, yet you do not think as such. I have been imprisoned here before Li Lingjun’s establishment was created. I may not even know of the Chu hostage. How could I know of Li Lingjun’s establishment?”
Shen Xuan’s body suddenly shook, his face paling abruptly.
In these years, no one had been able to meet Lin Zhujiu except for a rare few. He had been almost present at all those meetings with those few people. They could not have mentioned Li Lingjun.
How could he have learned?
“I can read minds.”
There was a splash. Lin Zhujiu raised his head, his tangled hair creating waves. “I am able to read what people hide through their eyes. It is the same with you. So this is the secret to why I was able to always win and predict the enemy in the past.”
Shen Xuan sank into great astonishment. But many seconds later, he became furious.
“How can there be a mind-reading art in the world!”
“You want to attack my heart!”
“You think that I will be affected by your words!”
His furious voice echoed through the water prison.
Lin Zhujiu looked at him with a small smile and said, “Of course, mind reading does not exist, but you think you will have a good end? You really think that everything is within Yuanwu’s grasp as he thinks?”
Just like usual, Shen Xuan’s heart filled with inexplicable terror.
Lin Zhujiu’s words were slightly absurd, but his following words pierced one’s heart like a needle of ice. Even more importantly, in the past years, many of the things Lin Zhujiu said all became reality.
Shen Xuan, just like usual, did not say a word as he decisively left the cell.
Translator Ramblings: Zhujiu means “to boil wine.”