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Chapter Forty-Six: Kill
Time passed by. Before the advent of spring, Changling had another rainstorm.
Winter rain could not compare to spring rain, and it was often annoying. Also, for most cultivators, rain and water meant femininity. In Changling, only a rare few cultivators, like Ye Celeng, had presences suited for such water essence.
The rain could be a barrier to the senses of cultivators, and cover many presences. So in the world of cultivators, many great matters occurred when great rains descended.
Huang Zhenwei stood under the eaves of the top level of the turret. He watched silently as a yellow-robed cultivator went into the imperial palace.
This was someone from Jiaodong.
Ever since Yuanwu’s ascension, and Zheng Xiu became the mistress of the entire Qin Dynasty, the yellow-robes that were so close in color to dry mud became a symbol of the Jiaodong envoys. Perhaps to show their privileges or their special status, these envoys from Jiaodong never concealed their identities, and would wear such yellow-robes when they came into Changling.
In the view of many old people of Changling, this was Jiaodong Commandery’s naked insult towards the old nobility of Changling.
Jiaodong Commandery existed in the past because of its strategic significance to the Qin Dynasty. It was a port that could provide abundant ocean seafood that fed the army. Even though Jiaodong Commandery had managed to accumulate enormous wealth through ships and rare medicines from overseas, in the eyes of Changling nobility of the past, the people of Jiaodong were just hillbillies and fishermen as well as second-hand traders.
But now, today, the Qin Dynasty and even the entire world recognized the power of Jiaodong. Jiaodong Commandery was terrifying in that most of its wealth was used to arrange for ears and eyes. It had terrifying information sources. Many things could be hidden from the Divinity Bureau and the Astrology Bureau, but not Jiaodong Commandery.
Other than this, many of the cultivators who died for Zheng Xiu and Jiaodong Commandery usually came from outside Jiaodong. Especially Zheng Xiu’s “family”. The Zheng Clan had produced a cultivator like Zheng Xiu. No one outside knew about the kind of cultivators that existed in the family. Because it was so remote, and a rural area in the eyes of Changling’s people, ever since the Zheng Clan took charge of Jiaodong, war never occurred in Jiaodong.
Even Zhao Gao who had followed Zheng Xiu to Changling, and saw Zheng Xiu change from a rural woman to the mistress of the Qin Dynasty did not know what kind of people were in the Zheng family, and how many there were.
Back then, to kill Wang Jingmeng and eliminate the Ba Mountain Sword Field, Zheng Xiu had commanded countless powers of Jiaodong Commandery, but none of the cultivators from the Zheng Clan formally appeared. So in these years, the Zheng Family of Jiaodong Commandery was still mysterious. Those who traveled outside were just the outer members of the Zheng Family, the blood members rarely appeared.
But the feeling of the yellow-robed cultivator heading into the palace today felt different to Huang Zhenwei. First, this cultivator was old. He was at least in his fifties or sixties, a generation older than the yellow-robed envoys from Jiaodong who came in the past.
Also, he could not see how strong this person was. Hispresence was perfectly hidden in the rain. Even though the other could not reach realm seven, Huang Zhenwei had a strong feeling that if he fought this yellow-robed cultivator, he would be killed.
To a cultivator of Huang Zhenwei’s level, a strong feeling meant that it was inevitable. So this yellow-robed cultivator must be a true “member” of the Zheng Clan.
This yellow-robed man who looked to be in his fifties, had hair that was sprinkled with white, and a medium build, reported in as required when he entered the imperial city, and then came in front of the empress’s study.
The empress Zheng Xiu was waiting at the door for his arrival.
When the yellow-robed man appeared in front of her and stopped, she first nodded in greeting, and then said expressionlessly, “You should not have come.”
The man was ordinary in appearance, and did not have a great presence. But when he heard Zheng Xiu’s words, he gave a small smile.
His small smile was enchanting. When he was young, this smile would have easily bespelled some young girls. But when he faced Zheng Xiu and showed a small smile like this, he was inexplicably filled with a dignified and powerful presence.
He asked in response with a smile, “Why should I not have come?”
“You come, and you reveal the foundation of Jiaodong Commandery,” Zheng Xiu looked at him and said with some coldness. “You are showing weakness.”
“Weakness?” The man’s smile grew. He looked with some sympathy at Zheng Xiu, a gaze of an elder to a junior. “If the family was not so disappointed in you, and fears that you cannot control this, why should I have come?”
Zheng Xiu looked coolly at him. “Disappointed?”
The yellow-robed man looked calmly at her and sighed emotionally. “In recent years, you did not value the opinions of the family, and you have been threatening the family. But the family let you go on previously, not because we fear your threats, but because Jiaodong Commandery’s position in the Qin Dynasty became less steady… after the reformation, the Qin Dynasty’s grains, and even meat was not so tight. Jiaodong Commandery’s original position as the supplier of the essential meat was disappearing. The military relied less and less on us. So from a certain view, our foundation was disappearing, and you are the future of Jiaodong.”
At this, the yellow robed man smiled again. But this time, the smile contained deep and sincere emotion. “Before this, the family let you do as you pleased, not because we feared any outside causes, but because you were very perfect. Speaking in fairness, you are the most perfect genius from Jiaodong in centuries. You performed perfectly in the past. But these two years were different. You caused more and more changes, and more and more of your people have died. But that is not what the family is most worried about. The family is worried about your war in the spring… you have gambled too much. You may easily gamble and lose all of Jiaodong Commandery.”
Zheng Xiu’s face was expressionless. Her skin gave off a beautiful porcelain light. “So the family has no confidence in me?”
The yellow-robed man still did not directly answer her question. He shook his head. “This is not a matter of trust, but the family feels that you should understand that you and the family are one in the end. You should know that it is you and the family walking together into the future of the Qin Dynasty, and not you walking into the future, and the family is your pawn.”
Zheng Xiu glanced at him. But before she could speak, the yellow-robed man looked away from her, turning to look at the sky above the distant Changling streets. He said softly, “I remember that Marquis Li has a son called Li Xixing. When he was young, he drowned a dog… You should not forget that when you were young, you also drowned a dog.”
Zheng Xiu tilted her head up slightly, and her perfect brows furrowed. Suddenly, she gave a rare laugh, a cold laugh. “Since I was a child, anything that I truly liked would be taken by the family. The dog I liked would be killed. My playmates that I studied with and cultivated with were trained into assassins that died at my hands… everything that could split my attention from cultivation, and let me form connections were removed by the family.”
She slowly said, “Without anything in my mind, there was nothing that could influence me. So I had no weakness. So even Wang Jingmeng died at my hands. The family had you come to say these things to me. But have they, including you, really have thought it through?”
“Before killing him, you may not have had weaknesses, but now it is different. Your position and your ambitions are your greatest weakness. Unless you are willing to live under Yuanwu.” The yellow-robed man looked emotionally at her, and shook his head. “But I understand you too well. Unless you can make the family have confidence in you again, then in the next while, I will act according to the family’s will.”
Zheng Xiu was silent for a moment. Then she looked at the yellow-robed man’s back and asked, “If that is the case, then you should at least tell me what you are going to do next.”
“Kill.” The yellow-robed man replied simply, and showed his white teeth.
“Shen Xuan, Pan Ruoye.” He turned his head slightly, and glanced at Zheng Xiu. He then said, “There is someone else as well. But I have not decided yet.”