Before Zhao Bairen could speak, the beautiful concubine beside him snickered, “Perhaps the princess just had a bad dream? There’s no need to be this tense, Your Majesty. Those traitorous immortals had already been killed that very year, no?”
The person that spoke up was Zhao Bairen’s favorite concubine, known as Concubine Ming. Born into a beautiful vessel, her skin as soft as silk and white as snow. Concubine Ming’s aura was the epitome of seduction, she was considered a beautiful offering to those who could bed her. Ever since she became Zhao Bairen’s concubine ten years ago, he treated her as his treasure, spoiling her as much as he could. Zhao Bairen had also neglected his morning meetings with the officials since he took her in as a concubine.
And it was because of the emperor’s doting behavior towards her that a mere concubine like Concubine Ming would dare speak to the emperor’s favorite daughter in such a way.
“Surely some might have slipped away.” Zhao Yuefei replied, her tone unfazed.
Concubine Ming giggled, “Daqi had murdered five thousand one hundred and thirty-three households that day, how could any of them possibly have slipped away?”
“Does Concubine Ming not trust me?” Zhao Yuefei questioned.
“I wouldn’t dare question you,” Concubine Ming responded as she sat upright. “But, if we were to dispatch our armies to raid our subjects based on only the princess’s assumption, and the people were to show their disdain, wouldn’t His Majesty take all the blame?”
Zhao Bairen chuckled softly. “My dear, those are some heavy words.” His Majesty said as he gently patted the back of her hand.
“But Your Majesty! Have I said anything wrong? 19 years ago, those immortal beings came down with a single message and tens of thousands of people lost their lives as a result of that! And who did the people blame? Whose reputation was tarnished because of the incident? Was it not yours, Your Majesty? Was it not Your Majesty who had to bear it all unjustly?” Concubine Ming responded angrily.
“Thank you for your concern, my dear.” Zhao Bairen smiled as he held his beloved concubine’s hand. The emperor turned to Zhao Feiyue, “If it is something that Feiyue feels concerned about, then we should definitely take notice of the matter. However, what Concubine Ming has said carries merit as well.”
Zhao Feiyue did not feel any anger towards her father’s statement, it seemed like she did not even know what anger was, not even as she was growing up. “Father, if you do not trust me, we can summon the Major Star Officer and question him about it, he will definitely have an answer.” Zhao Feiyue replied, cold and aloof as she always had been.
Zhao Bairen nodded in agreement with his daughter. “The Major Star Officer is a fair and honest being. As his role is detached from any form of politics, whatever he says must be true! Servants! Notify the Star Major Officer to see me at once!”
Concubine Ming pouted her lips disapprovingly. But since His Majesty had already notified the servants, there was nothing she could do. She proceeded to lean on His Majesty’s shoulder, looking at him with puppy-dog eyes and quietly muttered, “But Your Majesty, I want to get some sleep.”
Having heard this, Zhao Bairen immediately called out for his servants. “Servants! Escort Concubine Ming back to her quarters to rest!”
Concubine Ming was bewildered at the emperor’s words. She glared at Zhao Bairen for a split second. However, the emperor was so deep in his thought that he didn’t even notice her! ‘Hmph! You’re treating my good heart as donkey liver and lungs!’ Concubine Ming muttered to herself angrily as she got up to leave.
[T/L note: Treating a good heart as donkey liver and lungs is a Chinese idiom which means treating one’s genuine concern as trash]
As there were no men present in the emperor’s quarters. Concubine Ming left the bed nude and walked to the clothing rack where her robes are. Her delicate and smooth silk satin robe laid against her slender figure, emphasizing her seductive curves, alluring anyone who laid their eyes on her.
Bai Zhaoren, as if blind towards the scene, kept his eyes closed. Patiently waiting for the officer to arrive.
As the palace handmaidens finished dressing Concubine Ming, she looked at Zhao Bairen only to realize he still had a blank expression on his face. As she became increasingly irritated by the lack of attention, Concubine Ming immediately turned her head and left the emperor’s quarters.
After some time, Zhao Bairen opened his eyes. He quickly looked over the entire room and confusingly asked, “Where did my beloved go?”
There were a total of 28 concubines in the palace, but Zhao Bairen had only doted on one concubine in particular. Even though he did not specify as to who it was, all the handmaidens in the palace knew who he was referring to.
The head handmaiden softly spoke, “Your Majesty, Concubine Ming has already left for her quarters.”
“Why did she leave?!” questioned Zhao Bairen, astonished.
“Your Majesty was the one who ordered her return.”, the handmaiden replied, dumbfounded.
“When did that happen?”, Zhao Bairen was flabbergasted!
The handmaiden gave Zhao Bairen a glance and whispered, “Just now, it was Your Majesty who told her to head back to her quarters.”
Zhao Bairen palmed his own forehead in disappointment and exclaimed, “It seems I’ve gotten old! I can’t even remember a thing now!”
The handmaiden quietly stood up, a trace of contempt glossed over her eyes for just a second.
About a minute later, a visitor had arrived in His Majesty’s quarters. Adorned with a long purple robe was the Major Star Officer. 19 years had passed, the wrinkles on his face deepened and his beard had become snowy white.
“Long live His Majesty!” hailed the Major Star Officer. The Major Star Officer was the bridge between the mortals and the heavens. His role was detached from earthly customs. And as such, he need not kneel before the emperor as a simple bow would suffice.
“Major Star Officer, what insight have you obtained through your stargazing today?” asked Zhao Bairen as he gestured toward the officer.
Upon hearing the question, the Major Star Officer’s face changed immediately. He hesitated as he glanced at Zhao Yuefei, whose expression remained cold and aloof, kneeling beside him.
“Major Star Officer, if you have something to say, say it now!” said Zhao Bairen, slightly impatient.
The Major Star Officer sighed, “It seems that the Killer Star is on the move, chaos is coming!”
“…What?!” Zhao Bairen’s irked expression quickly turned to shock.
Zhao Feiyue gave the Major Star Officer a quick glance, her expression as cold as ice. Not even the slightest hint of smugness shown on her face.
“Why haven’t you reported this to me earlier?!” Zhao Bairen shouted angrily.
The Major Star Officer quietly replied, “As this was a serious matter, I wanted to confirm it further before reporting this to you, Your Majesty.”
“Preposterous! This is preposterous! I cannot even guarantee my kingdom’s safety, and you dare to hide such a matter from me?! Servants! Quickly find this Killer Star and get rid of him! Kill him! I don’t care how many there are! KILL THEM ALL!! I would rather we wrongfully kill ten thousand suspects than to let a single one escape!” Zhao Bairen screamed in a fit of rage.
In a dark corner, a eunuch who had been silent throughout the entire ordeal stepped forward. Only half of his body revealed by candlelight, he replied with a whisper, “Yes, Your Majesty.”
But just as he was about to leave, Zhao Feiyue stood up, grasping the air with her hands. In a split second, a sharp shriek could be heard coming from the outside of His Majesty’s quarters. In came a beam of green light, striking in Zhao Feiyue’s direction like a streak of thunder.
As she saw the thunder-like beam coming towards her, she immediately held up her hand and caught it. Having successfully caught the beam of green light, everyone presents in the room took a second glance at what she was holding. What Zhao Feiyue had been holding turned out to be a sword. The sheath of the sword was made from the skin of a whale shark from the East China sea, inscribed with intricate runes. A spirit crystal the size of a goose egg embedded on the sword’s hilt. Inside the crystal, a faint light was constantly moving and swirling, emitting an ethereal aura. The base of the crystal blade was engraved with two small Chinese characters: 天河 (Tianhe; Heavenly River)!
This was one of the world’s five famous swords! The Tianhe Sword!
Zhao Feiyue calmly replied, “There’s no need to worry father, as I am willing to help you ease your burden!”
“How could I possibly let my darling daughter engage in such violent activities?” Zhao Bairen hastily replied.
“Father, since I was born, I had been endlessly cultivating for 19 years. All of that just for the sake of this day!” Zhao Yuefei said calmly. Though she remained still, the sword in her hand released itself from her grip and circled her like a dragon, repeatedly emitting a menacing hum, as if eager for battle and blood while calling to her, “The traitorous immortal has appeared! Feiyue must find this man…!”
Zhao Bairen couldn’t help but ask, “….and what happens after?”
“I will kill him.” Zhao Feiyue replied coldly. Her expression devoid of any human emotion, a cold and bloodthirsty aura radiating from her.
Before Zhao Bairen could answer, Zhao Feiyue had already left in a flash as if she disappeared into thin air. The emperor stared blankly as he sat on his bed. After a while, he finally let out a long sigh and waved to the Major Star Officer, “Major Star Officer, you should leave as well. If there are any important things in the future, please remember that you must report it to me no matter what!”
The Major Star Officer hesitated for a second, the words he wanted to say still at the tip of his tongue. Ultimately, he chose not to speak. In the end, the Major Star Officer bowed to the emperor and left the palace. The old and wise officer looked up to the stars in the sky, his eyebrows furrowed as he sighed. His eyes filled with sadness and desperation….