142 4.54

*Warning: Suicidal themes 

The palace was cleaned up, and after an eventful day everyone was tired. Chef Wen had been temporarily taken to the underground prison in order to prevent him from escaping before all the information was given, and an emergency notice about the arrival of dragons had been made to calm the citizens. 

The seventh prince who had promised the emperor he would return by today had not appeared.

The emperor stared gloomily out the window. 

To be honest even though he wishes to raise an emperor who was capable of a certain level of ruthlessness, as a father obviously who would be pleased with a white eyed wolf son who would try kill his father? Not to mention, even if he could ignore his own emotions, the seventh prince's plan, while admittedly quite flawless in its insanity and execution, there was no denying it failed. Like most things in this cruel life we lead, nobody cares about the journey it took but only looked at the results made. The seventh prince may have done good work but the result is his entire plan has been revealed and unraveled in front of everyone. There was no way he could be considered for the throne anymore no matter how skilled or ruthless his actions were.

Luck was a skill in itself. And clearly the seventh prince did not have it ah.

It was both a pity and a relief.

The emperor sighs heavily. "How is Concubine Liang*?" He asks one of his personal eunuchs attending to him. 

Chef Wen confessed in public and many people heard his words clearly. He would be surprised if the harem hadn't already caught such a big melon to eat**.

*Seventh Prince's mother

**Melon= gossip

Concubine Liang… The emperor did not hate her but he didn't love her, like most women in the harem. Even then she was probably one of the better women present, her and her two friends would always sit around cracking melon seeds and drinking tea very casually. Even though their mouths were usually full of complaints it was clear the trio had found a rare contentment in the harem that most women there might never find in their lifetime. 

The emperor knew this and he knew the empress was fond of the plastic sisterhood the three shared, it was why their living arrangements were actually much better than a majority of the concubines save for maybe the concubines who birthed the first, third and ninth princes that were favoured by the emperor. It was really a pity…

After all, the heinous crime of treason and attempting to murder the emperor was to execute the criminal and all nine generations of their family*.

*The nine familial exterminations- it's essentially executing all relatives of the individual by crime of association. Mainly for crimes that are around treason as generally such a big thing cannot be done by one person and it's more likely that the family were part of it. It's essentially cutting all loose ends and also such a harsh punishment will make people rethink, well… treason. In all fairness it seems like it worked cuz it was a relatively rare punishment (though web novels may say otherwise lol).

The eunuch pauses, a flash of pity passes his face. "Your highness, Concubine Liang has requested white silk*."

*To hang herself with.

The emperor pauses, before closing his eyes with a heavy sigh. 

Concubine Liang who held her requested silk banner trembled. 


She never thought she would have this day. Definitely not now anyway. Concubine Liang bitterly chuckled to herself. If she had known her son was so talented and ambitious maybe she could've helped him, maybe the outcome will be different.

Or maybe it would've been exactly the same. However at least her heart would not have broken as much as it had now.

To be honest, Concubine Liang hated her son more than a little right now. Almost as much as she loved him. She couldn't understand him at all. Most princes essentially relied on their maternal family for support. However her son chose to deliberately drive them away. Was it to protect them? Was he really that naive? Or maybe he looked down on her, and her family?

Even though the seventh prince was a strange one, he was fairly filial, talented, and charismatic. Concubine Liang was very satisfied more or less with how he turned out and loved him dearly. While the fanaticism with dragons had been deeply concerning she still trusted and depended on him for many things just as she was eager to help with any requests he made to her.

So why… why did things turn out this way?

When she first heard the news her legs had immediately gone weak in disbelief. It was hard for anyone to understand what had gone through her mind at that point. She had become numb to the harem life, being satisfied with small things and enjoying simple matters. She had always thought her son had no large ambition for the dragon throne so after some urging on her part she forced herself to lose her own, stopped fighting for power and focused on security and safety. 

Don't look at her now, when she was young and beautiful she had been just as scheming and ruthless as the other coquettish bitches here. But for the safety and interests of her son she dropped that. It was true that maybe she was happier now than before but it doesn't change the fact she did it for the seventh prince, her beloved son.

And it was all a lie? Hah.. how funny.

It was so funny Concubine Liang couldn't even smile.

Because of her son, she and her family will be executed regardless of their innocence or guilt. Elderly and children, none of them will be spared. Their names will be forever nailed onto the pillar of shame as the family of the first rebel leader in the current dynasty. 

She felt helpless and weak and angry. Even though she understood why, how could she be satisfied with this utterly pathetic outcome? But what could she do? After all there was nothing weaker in the palace than an old, unfavored concubine such as herself.

Stepping up on the stool she threw up her silk banner and arranged the best position, her usually quite skilled fingers fumbling as her vision blurred with tears. However all the stalling in the world couldn't stop reality. 

Concubine Liang's knuckles whitened as they tightly gripped the silk banner, moving it to under her neck. She could only hope in the next world, that she would have the fortune to not have to meet her crazy white eyed wolf son in the next life.

"Desist your foolish actions!" A sharp voice causes Concubine Liang, who had barely mustered enough courage to end her life, to immediately falter and stumble off the stool she had been standing on.

"Ah!" She barely cried out before she was caught by two deceivingly delicate arms. Her head fell against two warm and soft pillows and she couldn't help but lean her check and nuzzle it against the comforting feeling. 

"…For a person about to hang herself Concubine Liang, you seem to be spirited enough to take advantage of this mistress*."

*Concubines will refer to the empress as mistress as she is the mistress (female master not the cheating mistress lol) of the harem. 

Concubine Liang flinched and lifted up her head in surprise. There, staring down on her was the faint smirk of the empress.

The empress, unlike the others in the palace, was not extremely beautiful like a sculpture, delicate like a flower or sexy like a vixen. Her face was not ugly, a bit pretty but plain, and it had a chubbiness she never could throw away, leaving her with a childish baby face that made it hard for newcomers to take seriously. 

Well, it really couldn't be helped. In a small community of women vying for one man, there was undoubtedly many catty remarks about the beloved empress' appearance. Even though everyone had long figured out the emperor was mainly infatuated with her stubborn personality and creative wit and kindness, the concubines who were undoubtedly jealous could only attack her lacking face and figure. The only thing in terms of looks that could make the other concubines envy was probably the large melons on her chest. 

It was said that the empress always had a sizeable chest, but it grew at least a cup bigger after a period of isolation many years ago. There were rumours that the emperor who loved large chests personally asked a miracle doctor to help the empress improve her figure, that the empress had been pregnant but had lost the child, that as she had gotten older she began to put fakes into her clothing to try maintain her appearance, or it was a poisoning incident gone right- either way, now Concubine Liang could at least testify the empress' breasts were definitely very real. 

And very soft.

Empress who was being fondled again: …

Feeling that her tofu had been eaten enough, she impolitely dropped Concubine Liang onto her butt and readjusted her robes. "You are very lucky Concubine Liang. Concubine Hua and Concubine Li* found me and begged for my help. Fortunately I'm quite fond of your plastic sisterhood and came just in time."

*Hua is the mother of the second prince, and Li is the fifth and sixth princes mother.

Concubine immediately felt touched, both toward the empress who they weren't honestly that close to, and her friends. However quickly her happiness was replaced with despair. "What's the use?" She sighs heavily, "Even if you save me now, wouldn't I be living a life worse than death?"

The mother of a treasonous prince. It didn't take a genius to know even if she died she still wouldn't be able to fully scrub off the shame, much less if she lived. The emperor would definitely divorce her, people would point fingers and bully her, her family would still be executed, the money seized, she had no outstanding skills and even her body would not be able to make much money. 

Some modern people may not understand why so many people commit suicide so easily in ancient china. However they couldn't fully comprehend the pressures of feudal society. For most normal people at the time, especially women, there was no turnaround after a big mistake, no ruined reputation that could be salvaged. Just being a divorced woman was enough to be an outcast and to be justifiably bullied. An unwanted woman. A used woman. She must have a bad personality, did not treat her husband well, maybe she cheated on him… There was no fact checking here. Any small rumour could really kill a person.

The empress also knew this, but there was no pity in her eyes. Instead she smiles, "Then let us kill you and bring you back to life ah."

Concubine Liang blinks, uncomprehending.

The empress chuckles, "You see, I have sent one of my personal palace girls off to get married. It is really a lot of effort to be honest, I think this time I want to hire an older woman to serve me."

It finally clicks and Concubine Liang's eyes widen. She immediately gets on the floor and kowtows vigorously. "Thank you mistress but please reconsider!" Concubine Liang shouts.

The empress cocks her head and touches her earlobe, "Do you believe that my offer is too demeaning toward your noble status?"

Concubine Liang shakes her head. It was true to go from a noble to a servant was indeed humiliating, but what was shame when you could live relatively free and in comfort? The beloved empress' personal servant would not be treated poorly after all. However there was one thing that made her reluctant to accept.

"Empress, mistress…" She hesitates, tears threatening to spill from her eyes again, "Even if I do accept can I really in good conscience live well when my entire family will die?" Concubine Liang shakes her head with a bitter expression, "I may not be a good woman but I am still filial. I raised that white eyed wolf son of mine, no matter how I wish to deny it I'm sure a part of how he ended up like this now was definitely due to me. Therefore am I not indirectly the reason why my parents and relatives will die an unjustified death?"

Before the empress showed no pity, but now it glimmered in her eyes as she kneels down to touch the concubine's head. "I cannot do much in that regard," She admits, "The emperor will need to make a show of the traitors, and if he doesn't then he would be deemed a soft and muddled monarch which will breed various thoughts in more ambitious and insidious minds."

Concubine Liang knew that perfectly well. It is not just the common people who will suffer when there reputation is hit. Even the emperor is no exception. While the current emperor has gained many alliances and the conflicts around the border were not too bad before, ever since the emperor became ill there had been many people who became anxious and impatient. If he acts in compassion now, he may gain some love from the commoners but it was a whole other story toward the neighbouring kingdoms and barbarians at the border. 

The empress tugged at her earlobe in faint anxiety, as she whispers, "While I can't do a lot… I can guarantee to save a few. The children and young women mainly. They can be more easily overlooked and many soldiers are more sympathetic toward them…" She straightened her back and looked down on the concubine still on the ground, every bit the domineering empress she is.

"However I will save them under the condition that you will take care of their needs." The empress lifts her chin haughtily and smiles, "Fortunately I am very generous with my servants, and will even allow them to have tea with their friends on occasion."

This time Concubine Liang's eyes had lost the battle and was now pouring out tears of gratefulness. 

"Many thanks to the empress!"


"The seventh prince hasn't come back," Duan Mengyao reports, "It is highly likely he has caught wind of Chef Wen's capture and has gone back to his land."

Everyone around the table looks at each other. It had been a long day since father dragon had come down from heaven. The dark clouds full of holes still loomed across the capital's sky like the most intimidating fishing net ever, and now the emperor, the princes and the highest ranking officials and ministers were in a meeting with Tang Muxin, Duan Mengyao, Da Gong, and Jin Bao.

Pan Shuchun and Ye Cheng had gone back to continue arranging for the shop's opening. Ye Cheng was the one to insist on that. 

When Da Gong was taken away, he had felt the loss more deeply than Jia Hyson. After all this was his constant companion for years and he trusted Da Gong and relied on him immensely. Without that support and his own inability to do anything in the situation, he had experienced a small mental breakdown, relying on Cao Huizhong for comfort. 

However now that Da Gong was back and perfectly fine, Ye Cheng was also brimming with energy again!

Eighth Prince Yan Huizhong: …Feeling a bit used ah. _(:3」∠)_ 

Actually not only had been Ye Cheng been full of energy he had also been full of shock at finding out Cao Huizhong had been eighth prince Yan Huizhong! Thanks to the ninth prince who pointed it out so blatantly, Yan Huizhog's identity had been revealed. Even though Ye Cheng wasn't particularly angry, he did wish to have some space to sort things out, not to mention he really couldn't help much in this sort of serious imperial infighting. It was better to focus on the store.

Pan Shuchun was of a similar mindset. She was only interested in fashion. This sort of warfare, imperial bullshit, she really couldn't care less about to be honest. So she happily skipped off as well after handing over some good tea recipes to help calm the mind and soothe the nerves.

The rest of the group stayed back to discuss the situation at hand.

"Knowing seventh brother he will definitely fight." The sly third prince speaks up. 

"The army he has…" The playboy fifth prince frowns, "I have visited his land a few times, his following is not small and seventh prince is indeed very talented in war and training. Even if the army isn't very big I am sure they will be incredibly skilled."

"Heh, does it even matter? We dragons on our side, are they mentally ill?" The arrogant crown prince sneers as he leans back on his seat.

"Who says you have us by your side?" Father dragon sneers back, causing the crown prince to almost fall off his chair. 

The princes, the officials and even the emperor did a double take at that, looking at Father dragon with shock at such implication. Father dragon's eyes saw their surprise and disbelief and his disdain deepened. 

He was genuinely confused at how arrogant the little humans were. He was here to find his son. Just because his son was in the hands of people supporting the palace, that didn't mean he was obligated to fight a fucking war for them. That's like a foreigner finding a lost child and returning him to his family, then getting surprised later when nobody in that family changed their passports and followed him back home. That's not how gratitude works okay?

Father dragon was very grateful that his baby was safe don't get him wrong. He was perfectly happy to give his blessings to the people responsible. Which, from what he understands, were not even people technically working for the palace anyway, but it didn't matter who they were, they couldn't force him to be some attack dog as compensation. Father dragon was willing to help impart information, blessings and gifts, because that is what one should do. He was not willing to murder and get in the middle of an argument completely unrelated to him. 

"I will oversee the fight, but I truly have no interest in your inheritance conflicts." Father dragon's whiskers twitch impatiently, "My son is interested in joining and I have no problem with this, after all it is his choice. If he comes into danger then I will choose to help him. If not, my benevolence towards your group will be given only when I feel like it ah."

It was a very fickle and overbearing statement. A being with so much power they could overturn the outcome of the war with whichever side they chose, and yet claims to only step in if they felt like it… it was undeniable some people felt wronged by this attitude. 

"Don't you think that's a bit cruel?" One of the officials boldly asks after some hesitation, "If lord dragon chooses, the lord dragon could easily minimise the number of casualties for both sides. With all due respect, life is precious, isn't it selfish to let people die because you won't help?" 

After the first person said something soon others also joined.

"Lord dragon please reconsider, doing nothing in such a situation might as well be the same as personally condemning good men to death!"

"Lord dragon my son is also on the battlefield! As a fellow father don't we both want our children to live long and healthy lives?" 

"Lord dragon-"

"Please lord dragon-"

"Begging lord dragon-"

After all some of them have sons in the army, some felt this sort of fight would waste a lot of resources and funds and some were genuinely full of justice. However it didn't matter what their intentions were, Father dragon did not react at all. 

Jia Hyson also was silent. To be honest he personally sided more with Father dragon and disliked the attitude of the officials' trying to convince the dragon to change his mind. 

It could be seen that the officials still knew their place and knew not to offend as their language was very polite and pitiful. If it wasn't a dragon standing before them it could be easily imagined that the group would turn to swearing and threats. However even if they were polite, their words were full of passive aggressiveness. 

This sort of thing was similar to modern day attitudes. A good example of this is where many felt that the rich who have so much money have to give it back to society. 

It's true that it would be incredibly generous if the rich did this charity, if they threw out half their profits to people in need, how blessed would the world be then? However it's considered charity because it's voluntary. 'Should', is not the same word as 'have to'. It is the difference between kindness and obligation which we often mix up and use to best suit our needs. 

As a dragon who could help prevent many lives being lost, Father dragon should join in. But at the same time he didn't have to. He wasn't duty bound to fight for people he didn't know and he simply didn't want to. Is that wrong? Not really. However undeniably it's not technically right either. 

For people, the worries of a group will almost always outweigh the worries of an individual. It is why moral kidnapping and peer pressure is so easy to succumb to. 

Status, power, riches, talent, popularity… these were great things but they came with a lot of expectations and minefields. People are able to say many things but the truth is we're all hypocrites. You could curse a rich man for not constantly helping the poor, but to be honest which middle class person donates every single time they pass by one of those little tip jar-gold coin-charity-tin box things anyway? 

Both were perfectly capable of taking out a small percentage of their money to help someone in need but only one would be more likely to be abused and pinned to the pillar of shame if they choose to not do it. Is it because people think that rich people have to be kindhearted? Of course not, all people should be good…. Rich and influential people just have to be better. 

The emperor sighs as he looks at his officials. It would be a lie to say he didn't want the dragon to help them, and ease many of their problems. However as an emperor himself he was more empathetic and respected the dragon's decision. 

"Silence!" He commands, embarrassed at his ministers. "If you really think doing nothing is personally killing good men then maybe you all should've considered doing more toward improving our imperial army ah? Who was it that wanted to cut off our military budgets? Or better yet, if you want to be even more straightforward, you all should also conscript and help these fellow good men like your asking lord dragon to do?" 

Seeing the group of chattering men effectively silenced, with their necks shrunk back like timid quails, the emperor rolls his eyes. "And honestly, if you really wanted your son to have a guaranteed long and healthy life, then maybe you shouldn't have encouraged the child to head to the army to try earn some achievements and merits for the family?" 

"I- this one didn't mean- Fighting for the emperor is an honour!" 

"Then it should also be an honour to die for zhen." The emperor announces tyrannically. It was very handsome. "This is a fight between ourselves. Don't you think it's shameful as the emperor and his trusted people to have to rely on outsiders in an internal conflict?"

The men lowered their heads in shame. Yes. They were all capable people and while they couldn't win a battle with no losses their military might was still pretty good. Like the emperor said, it was too shameful to beg and desperately push at the lord dragon like their entire community would perish without his input. 

It wasn't like they've never experienced these sort of troubles before, after all the previous emperor often provoked and pitted many of his sons and there had been constant fighting in the imperial family. It was only when the current emperor finally sat firmly on the throne that the peace settled back in the country. 

People who are weak always think it's only fair that people who are strong should work harder. Because they have the capabilities they should do more. If lord dragon helped them this time, would they be very grateful? Most of the officials were screened very well by the emperor who was very strict about the people in his court so the majority of men here were not present due to connections but their own hard work. Regardless of status, everyone was fairly intelligent and hardworking and talented. Before their minds were clouded by the easier path but after the scolding they were fairly good at self reflecting as well.

Thinking about it, they would be indeed grateful but they also had a feeling it was to be expected, and hope, maybe assume that this help will continue forever. This thinking was dangerous and would make them lazy and dull like the spoilt rich second generations. 

The officials, knowing they were wrong all immediately knelt down and kow-towed in forgiveness toward the dragon emperor for their presumptuous behaviour. In their hearts they were grateful for their sensible emperor who was not easily moved by short term rewards.

As expected their current emperor was still the best!

The officials sigh, at the very least they must try keep the current emperor on the throne as long as possible. While some officials were interested in muddying the waters for their own gains, the next generation of princes were really too eccentric, and many ambitious people were still patient enough to reluctantly wait until the princes matured a bit more. 

The already pretty mature princes: …

Father dragon was pleasantly surprised at the emperor's attitude and his look toward the man changed to a much better one. In his opinion it was usually these human emperors that were the most demanding and arrogant, unwilling to know their place because of their blessed bloodline that had been gifted by the dragons themselves. However it seems this one is quite sensible. 

Looking at his little son who was quite attached to this world, Father dragon silently decided that if this battle did not go well he would at least help save the human emperor. 

To be honest, he wasn't even a little worried. His son was very weak but as long as he breathes, his luck buff was enough to overturn many things. Not to mention he, himself was present, the chances of the luck overturning was very small unless bad karma was generated from himself or his little son. 

After all, while golden dragons were very blessed with their attributes that promote fortune, wealth and luck, it wasn't like they could use such gifts unabashedly or it would really be going against the heavens ah. As long as they more or less maintain good karma their luck will always be good. Even if they gain a decent amount of bad karma from killing people as long as they spread their blessings or just wait for a few hundred years this bad karma is more easily wiped away then in other creatures. It would take a great amount of heinous acts for a golden dragon to have their luck overturned. 

However… his son was not only young but so cute. There was no way he could have generated any bad karma ah. 

Jia Hyson, literal murderer, manipulator and heart breaker: (,,•w•,,) ?

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