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MJT Chapter 10

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Sitting before the vanity, Yi Chongren slowly drew a crimson line from the corner of his eye with a single stroke. After drawing this, he slowly painted his lips. Deep purple lips, crimson eyes, and a pale white face combined into a demonic face. After an hour, Yi Chongren received secret letters from Zhang Zhong and Noble Consort Ru, telling him that they’d make their move tonight. A sneer formed on Yi Chongren’s lips.

“Child, from now on you are called Yi Chongren, ‘reborn as a human[1]’ . The most dangerous place is also the safest place. Forget your original name. Your surname is now Yi, and you are a young eunuch that just entered the palace. Your life is not easy to come by, so don’t think about getting revenge. Surviving is the most important.”

Yi Chongren put down the brush and looked at his reflection in the bronze mirror. Surviving is the most important? Then what do his dead parents and relatives count as? What do his forsaken manhood and self respect count as? No, surviving is not the most important.

Standing up and straightening his clothes, Yi Chongren put on a cloak and headed out. The sun had already set, and the November day had long lost its heat. In the midst of the cold, blowing wind, Yi Chongren entered the palace.

——————————————————————————————————————-

The troops from Kun had already entered Southern Chu and were fighting against Prince Yue’s army. Of Prince Yue and the Tian Shen Sect, the Jiazheng emperor clearly hated Prince Yue more. The Jiazheng emperor only sent some Hu An guards and imperial guards to exterminate the Tian Shen Sect. The court’s army and the reinforcements from Kun were both tasked with fighting against Prince Yue. Huo Feng was under great pressure. Huang Han’s men had already joined with Huo Feng half a month ago. Now they were at “White Feather Pass” fiercely fighting  the troops from Kun.

At present, there was no obvious war atmosphere in the capital, as many of the people that congregated there were the important gentry and aristocratic officials of Southern Chu. The troops dispatched from Kun seemed to give these people feelings of reassurance, so although gunpowder was flying everywhere, it did not stop these people from abandoning themselves to pleasure and merrymaking. It seemed as if once the troops from Kun arrived, everything would be fine. Yi Chongren rode a horse towards the palace followed by the Hu An guards and imperial bodyguards. All the pedestrians on the street bowed to him in respect and made way. One could not know who Yi Chongren was, but one definitely couldn’t not recognize that makeup. From time to time, the laughter of courtesans and the obscene language of men sounded from the brothel nearby. Yi Chongren glanced over and reined his horse.

The gazes of the pedestrians surrounding him shivered with fear. Yi Chongren lightly said to the Hu An guards and imperial bodyguards behind him: “The nation is in crisis, yet there are still people indulging in wine and pleasure. They should be punished.”

Two subordinates following Yi Chongren immediately led two men and horses to separate from the group. After a while, blood-curdling screeches and cries sounded from the brothel. The corners of Yi Chongren’s lips rose, and he continued riding towards the palace. 

In the imperial study, the Jiazheng emperor was in the midst of a tantrum. Prince Yue hadn’t even been fully dealt with and now here came the “Tian Shen Sect”. The Jiazheng emperor had been on the throne for more than ten years, and had sought pleasure for more than ten years. Who knew that now his ship would capsize in the gutter, and after more than four months of nervousness from dealing with governmental affairs, he endured a stomach of anger with nowhere to vent. Anyone who was prevented from eating well, drinking well, and playing well while forced to be busy day and night would have their face darkened, not to mention the Jiazheng emperor who wasn’t even interested in government affairs at all. These four months, every day felt like a year. Every day, he hoped a hero could descend from the heavens to instantly defeat all the rebels.

The Jiazheng emperor was not happy, so naturally the people beneath him were unfortunate. Not to mention, the eunuchs and palace maids that served him closely would be scolded or brought to death if they didn’t pay attention and carelessly offended the emperor. The Jiazheng emperor, who became angrier and angrier as he kept thinking, dug out Zhang Zhong and Sun Jiyu’s old accounts. Even if Prince Yue carried the intent to rebel, that was because Zhang Zhong and Sun Jiyu messed with him first, giving Prince Yue an excuse. The court was now split into two factions. One faction naturally sided with Zhang Zhong and Sun Jiyu; The other faction consisted of the officials that wanted to pull those two from their positions of power. Because the Jiazheng emperor began to personally deal with government affairs, Zhang Zhong and Sun Jiyu could no longer blatantly arrest ministers like they used to. In addition, the Jiazheng emperor was enraged by their response to this matter, so the two didn’t dare act so unbridled at this point. This also led to the fact that their accounts would be brought before his majesty nearly everyday now.

Anyone who hears lots of malicious talk about a person will also form unpleasant impressions of the person. After hearing the cabinet ministers talk about whatever evil deeds Zhang Zhong and Sun Jiu committed everyday and even hearing his favored concubine’s whispered pillowtalk, the Jiazheng emperor could no longer trust Zhang Zhong and Sun Jiyu as he did in the past. The Jiazheng emperor wasn’t stupid after personally dealing with government affairs for over four months and investigating how the two deceived their superiors and bullied their subordinates. After all the warnings, after punishing the individuals as an example to others, after venting his anger, the Jiazheng emperor directly issued an order to deal with the people who held power over the Hu An guards and imperial guards. If not for Noble Consort Ru protecting Yi Chongren, it would have been difficult for Yi Chongren to escape death. The situation was becoming more and more dire for Zhang Zhong and Sun Jiyu. And this night was a battle of life or death for Zhang Zhong.

The Jiazheng emperor was in the imperial study berating his ministers. Such a little Tian Shen Sect had cast all of Southern Chu into pandemonium. If he didn’t berate his ministers, who else could he berate? The Jiazheng emperor definitely wouldn’t cast the blame on himself. After he finished scolding the ministers, the Jiazheng emperor returned to the palace with a stomach full of rage. Under the placation of his favored consort, his mood became a bit better, and he ordered the imperial kitchen to bring in his dinner.

In the most magnificent palace of the imperial harem, Noble Consort Ru sat alone before the altar, looking as clear-hearted as the Buddha. If someone familiar with her was at the scene, they would definitely discover that under her peaceful mask was a discernible nervousness. Noble Consort Ru turned the prayer beads at her fingertips as she trembled slightly, her delicate countenance appearing two tints paler than usual. Time passed by slowly and Noble Consort Ru finally opened her eyes, put down the prayer beads, and gradually stood up.

“Rongwei, what time is it?”

“Replying to your highness, it’s two ke past the hour of hai (9:30 pm).”

Noble Consort Ru’s hands visibly trembled. She calmly took in a deep breath and walked out of the Buddhist hall. She said to the eunuchs guarding outside: “I want to visit the crown prince. He’s growing more and more stubborn. Don’t let him wake up so late like yesterday.”

“Yes.”

Noble Consort Ru led the imperial bodyguards towards the crown prince’s palace.

In the emperor’s bedchamber, the Jiazheng emperor embraced his favored consort and closed his eyes to rest, though his eyebrows still revealed traces of irritation. Concubine Qin lightly rubbed the center between the Jiazheng emperor’s eyebrows and delicately said: “Your majesty, you haven’t rested for so many days. Rest earlier tonight.”

“I’m not in the mood to sleep.” The Jiazheng emperor opened his eyes and said bitterly.

At this time, the voice of the eunuch on guard duty sounded from outside: “Reporting to his majesty, Lord Zhang and Lord Sun are requesting an audience, claiming there are important matters to report.”

“Look, something has come up again. These annoyances can’t let me live in peace, they’re all useless!” The Jiazheng released his hold on the beauty and walked out of the bedroom

Zhang Zhong and Sun Jiyu entered with lowered heads and bent waists, followed by Yi Chongren. The three men entered and the guard eunuch retreated, closing the door.

The three kneeled on the ground and the Jiazheng emperor glanced at Yi Chongren, coldly asking: “What matters do you have to report? Did Prince Yue reach us or did the ‘Tian Shen Sect’ conquer some cities?”

Sun Jiyu glanced at Zhang Zhong. He had been called over by Zhang Zhong. Zhang Zhong only told him that he received a secret piece of news without telling him what the secret news was, only saying he’d know once he reported it to his majesty. Sun Jiyu was a bit happy. What else could he fear letting others find out about first?

Zhang Zhong lowered his head and said: “Your majesty, this servant has found the whereabouts of Prince Yue’s heir.”

“What?!” The Jiazheng Emperor released the women in his arms. Sun Jiyu was surprised.

“Where!” The Jiazheng emperor was excited. If he caught Prince Yue’s eldest son, he would have one more bargaining chip to threaten Prince Yue with! And this was a very important bargaining chip!

Zhang Zhong raised his head and said hesitantly: “The place where Prince Yue’s eldest son is hiding……might be a place where your majesty can’t send people to. This servant doesn’t dare to directly say. This servant can only tell your majesty quietly.”

“Somewhere even I can’t send people to? Could this place be heaven? Come here.” The Jiazheng emperor hooked his finger towards Zhang Zhong. He wanted to know what place had such capability.

Zhang Zhong immediately stood and walked over. Sun Jiyu’s eyes flashed with killing intent. Was Zhang Zhong that bastard planning on hogging everything for himself?! Concubine Qin moved aside. Zhang Zhong arrived beside his majesty, leaned over, and whispered in his majesty’s ear: “This servant found out, the young master is at……” at this time, Zhang Zhong suddenly pulled a dagger out of his sleeve, stabbed into the side of the Jiazheng emperor’s waist, and used his other hand to cover the Jiazheng emperor’s mouth and nose. The Jiazheng emperor’s eyes widened, staring at Zhang Zhong in disbelief. How dare you!

“Ah—!”

Concubine Qin screamed.

Sun Jiyu was stunned motionless for a second before he jumped out and started calling for people. In the next moment, he felt a chill on his neck. His line of vision changed into a bizarre angle and the last thing he saw was a cloud of blood.

“Peng!”

The palace doors suddenly burst open and Yi Chongren, who just killed Sun Jiyu, quickly hid his flexible sword back into its sheath at his waist, and loudly exclaimed with panic: “Your majesty!” The sound of footsteps approached and a group of the palace’s imperial guards appeared in the palace without warning. Still blocking the Jiazheng emperor’s mouth and nose, Zhang Zhong, who still hadn’t pulled out his dagger, felt his mind turn blank. Chongren?

“Ahhhhhhhhhh!!” Noble Consort Ru, who was holding the crown prince, released a blood-curdling screech. Her painted finger pointed towards the dumbfounded Zhang Zhong and screamed: “Your majesty—! Someone assassinated his majesty!” Afterwards, she saw the decapitated corpse, and nearly fainted, “Father——!”

Yi Chongren flew before Zhang Zhong and kicked him away, and  Zhang Zhong collapsed to the ground with a miserable shriek. Yi Chongren supported his majesty, stealthily stabbing the dagger deeper into the Jiazheng emperor’s waist, and yelled: “Your majesty! Call the imperial doctor! Quickly call the imperial doctor!”

The Jiazheng emperor stared at Yi Chongren. His body twitched a few times and he unwillingly choked on his breath.

“Zhang Zhong! How dare you assassinate his majesty!” Noble Consort Ru’s scream pierced the eardrums of everyone present at the scene. Zhang Zhong actually dared to assassinate the emperor in his palace. The imperial bodyguards were scared to death and immediately rushed over without thinking and carved Zhang Zhong, who had been injured by Yi Chongren, into pieces. The Jiazheng emperor’s eyes were still wide open, dead but not in peace as blood gushed from out of his waist. He couldn’t even understand why he would die, why Zhang Zhong dared to kill him. He could slowly ponder over this question in the underworld.

———————————————————————————————————————

Overnight, the Jiazheng emperor died, Sun Jiyu died, and Zhang Zhong died. If it wasn’t for Noble Consort Ru, who brought the crown prince to see his majesty, arriving in a timely manner, the world may have become Zhang Zhong’s. Before Zhang Zhong entered, all the palace guards were replaced with Zhang Zhong’s people. Only by doing this could he bring a dagger into his majesty’s bedchamber. But how did Sun Jiyu die? It was very strange. Zhang Zhong’s assassination of the emperor was seen not only by Noble Consort Ru but also the young crown prince, so the evidence was irrefutable. However, Sun Jiyu was decapitated by someone. Who other than Yi Chongren was capable of such a feat? Yi Chongren gave an explanation. Zhang Zhong falsely accused Sun Jiyu of colluding with Prince Yue, even bringing out a letter Sun Jiyu had written to Prince Yue. His majesty was enraged and ordered him to behead Sun Jiyu on the spot. Zhang Zhong used this as an opportunity to approach his majesty, and the rest occured just as Noble Consort Ru saw.

This explanation was not indubitable, but it was undeniable that Zhang Zhong assassinated the emperor, and Concubine Qin testified that his majesty had ordered Yi Chongren to kill Sun Jiyu. Concubine Qin was the only witness present so her words were used as the most important evidence. In addition, everyone knew that Concubine Qin and Yi Chongren were from opposing factions. Yi Chongren was one of Noble Consort Ru’s people and Concubine Qin was his majesty’s favored consort. Concubine Qin had no reason to speak for Yi Chongren, so whatever she said had to be the truth. Who knew Zhang Zhong was this vicious. Yi Chongren took Zhang Zhong’s dugong token and rushed towards the Hu An guards’ base camp. Noble Consort Ru quickly calmed down, ordered for all news of the matter to be suppressed, and called several important officials into the palace in the name of the crown prince. The crown prince was only nine years of age, so being called in the name of the crown prince……allowed the officials who were summoned to instantly sense that something was amiss, and they immediately entered the palace. That night, everyone in the palace was in a panic. A major purge swept through the palace and the capital before news of the Jiazheng emperor’s assassination spread.

After ten days, news of the emperor’s death was released. Zhang Zhong assassinated the emperor, Sun Jiyu was framed to death by Zhang Zhong, and Lord Qianhu of the Hu An guards, Yi Chongren, seized Zhang Zhong at the critical juncture, saving the crown prince and earning the most merits. Although Yi Chongren killed Sun Jiyu, he was acting on orders, so no one blamed him. Whoever wanted to blame could only blame Zhang Zhong for being too vicious.

The emperor passed suddenly, the young prince ascended to the throne, and Noble Consort Ru, who became the empress dowager, governed behind the curtain, ruling in place of the emperor. Yi Chongren became Dugong of the Hu An guards. Additionally, before the next Sishi was selected, Yi Chongren took over the imperial guards. Yi Chongren was the savior of the new emperor and the confidant of the empress dowager. Now he had grown even more powerful, comparable to Zhang Zhong and Sun Jiyu in their prime. The court officials who had previously been trying to think of ways to pit Zhang Zhong and Sun Jiyu withdrew their voices at once. Yi Chongren’s ruthlessness was different from Zhang Zhong and Sun Jiyu’s, he was more frightening than both of them. Many people thought a bloody storm was coming, not knowing which big official would come under Yi Chongren’s blade first. For a while, everyone felt that they were in danger.

“Chongren, are you really going personally? Isn’t it just a charlatan pretending to be god? Can’t you just send someone else?”

In the empress dowager’s palace, Empress Dowager Ru said while pulling Yi Chongren’s hand, reluctant to part. Her son had smoothly ascended to the throne and she was crowned empress dowager. If it weren’t for Yi Chongren, she wouldn’t know when she’d have been able to achieve all this. Empress Dowager Ru didn’t seem to feel any of the heartbreak expected from someone who just lost their father. Now, it was none other than Yi Chongren that she trusted the most.

Yi Chongren let Empress Dowager Ru grasp his hand and frowned: “Sima Xian is a charlatan that can receive a hundred answers with a single call, so his strength isn’t to be underestimated. All the people I’ve sent to assassinate him have not returned. Either he has experts by his side, or he himself is an expert. Your highness, at present we have the threat of Prince Yue in the north and Sima Xian in the south. His majesty has only just ascended to the throne. If we manage to kill one of them, we could greatly boost the morale of the imperial court. At present, Prince Yue is fighting against the three hundred thousand soldiers from Kun and the two hundred thousand soldiers sent by the court. This is not a big issue at present, but it’s best to exterminate the ‘Tian Shen Sect’ as soon as possible, to avoid endless troubles in the future. Killing Sima Xian will cast the Tian Shen Sect into chaos, giving the court a chance to eradicate them and ease the pressure on the court. In addition, Kun sent enforcements because they want those four cities. Now the previous emperor is dead. How could there not be any unforeseen happenings? Even if everything goes according to plan, would your highness be willing to cede these four cities?”

Empress Dowager Ru’s expression turned ruthless: “Kun took advantage of our people’s situation. After dealing with Prince Yue and that charlatan, I must take them on. I definitely won’t let anyone threaten the emperor’s position.”

“So I must go.”

Empress Dowager Ru said worriedly: “If you go by yourself, I won’t be able to stop worrying. Take some people with you.” He agreed.

Yi Chongren said: “I will naturally make all the necessary preparations.”

“When you leave, what will happen to the Hu An guards and imperial guards? I don’t trust any of those people.”

“Naturally, I have found suitable people before leaving your highness. Your highness should be assured to know that I’ve handed the Hu An guards over to the newly promoted eunuch, Guo An. This person is cautious and used to be an outstanding leader in the Hu An guards. As for the imperial guards, why don’t you choose someone from your family. I remember your highness has a cousin named Zhuang Ye. This person comes from a side branch of the family, has no parents or siblings, and is a small general in the military. If your highness promotes him to Sishi of the imperial guards, he must be extremely grateful and obedient. What’s most important is that he’s from a branch family and is not very involved with the family, so he won’t be difficult to control in the future.”

Empress Dowager Ru nestled into Yi Chongren’s arms and emotionally said: “You still think the most thoroughly. If only all the people around me were just half as capable as you. Chongren, if you weren’t a eunuch, I would immediately let his majesty seal you as prime minister.”

A cold light flashed in Yi Chongren’s eyes, but his tone was warm as he said: “I don’t do these things for your highness expecting anything in return. Your highness should know of my heart.”

Empress Dowager Ru was moved and tightly embraced Yi Chongren.

“Your highness, you must be careful after I leave.”

“Don’t worry, I’m not a little bitch who just relies on the favor of men. I’m not that easy to bully.” Empress Dowager Ru’s tone changed and she asked darkly: “Where’s Concubine Qin that bitch? You must promise to help me vent this anger.”

“Does your highness not trust me? She’s in my hands. I will only make her feel how life can be worse than death.”

Noble Consort Ru laughed: “I just knew giving her to you would be the best choice.”

The corners of Yi Chongren’s lips curved into a smile.

[1]  重生为人 (chong sheng wei ren) has the same chong and ren as in Yi Chongren

(t/n: That was probably the chapter I had most fun translating  ( ̄▽ ̄)”)

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