// Chapter 1 : Vermilion
27 May 2019

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In the grand court of Tianxuan’s Imperial Palace, the highest-ranked officials were lined up as they awaited their newly-proclaimed king.

Located in the southwestern region, Tianxuan was the first among the 4 vassal states of the Juntian Empire to declare itself independent once the power of the Empire started weakening.

Tianxuan is known for its powerful army and strong military horses. A few years after the duke-turned-king came to power, he has been cultivating new lands nonstop, thus, continuously expanding the size and influence of the state.

It has been 3 years since Tianxuan’s secession from Juntian, and it has remained as strong as ever.

“His Majesty has arrived!” The words of an imperial servant echoed down the hall as he announced the arrival of the king.

All the officials got on their knees and lowered their heads as Tianxuan’s King gracefully strode down the purple carpet and sat upon his throne.

Ling Guang (陵光, 22), King of Tianxuan, skin as smooth as jade and as light as the moon. His eyes are large and bright, lips of a delicate pink color. His round cheeks complement his youthful appearance and the long, wavy hair flowing down his back emit a sense of elegance.

“Greetings to Your Majesty,” said the officials with a deep bow.

“My subjects, you may all rise,” said Ling Guang. His voice is soft and delicate.

The officials did as followed. “Thank you, Your Majesty,” they said in unison.

An informant in military armor walked up to the center of the court. “Reporting to Your Majesty, our soldiers have penetrated through Yaoguang’s last defense and are currently still in battle with Juntian’s army. Based on the latest news sent by General Sheng, it seems like both Juntian and Yaoguang are struggling to withstand our military’s might. The siege is definitely in our favor.”

“Humph!” Ling Guang slammed the armrest of his throne.

The informant was taken by surprise and got down on his knees.

“If it weren’t for Qiu Tianhao’s hesitation to lead his army and assist General Sheng, then we would’ve taken complete control of Yaoguang days ago! And we wouldn’t have lost so many men!” Ling Guang chided.

“Your majesty, please do not be angry. I believe General Sheng has the ability to make Juntian’s army surrender and retreat in a short matter of time,” said the Chancellor, in hopes of appeasing his king.

The Chancellor is the highest government official of Tianxuan and one of Ling Guang’s most trusted confidants. A soft-hearted man at heart, he has dedicated his life in assisting Ling Guang to the throne and bringing honor to the state. Although he is almost four times the age of his king, he treats Ling Guang with the utmost respect because he recognizes the talents of the young king.

At the same time, he is also worried about his king’s ambitions.

“Chancellor, it is not that I doubt General Sheng’s abilities. I wanted to use this opportunity to show Juntian what we are capable of, and what is better than invading and seizing the little state that is Yaoguang. Yaoguang thinks that they have Juntian as support but I want to let them know that we, Tianxuan, are the ones who will determine their fate. If I want them to live then they will live. If I want them to die, then not even one life can be spared.” Ling Guang’s tone has gotten calmer as he replied to the Chancellor, but still possessed a sense of menace as he spoke of the enemies.

After a moment of silence from the officials, Ling Guang added, “How daring of Qiu Tianhao to delay my plan.”

The court remained quiet as nobody dared to interrupt Ling Guang.

Aware of the current tense atmosphere he has created, Ling Guang turned to the informant and asked, “By last defenses, you’re telling me General Sheng has reached Yaoguang’s Imperial Palace?”

The informant’s voice began quivering. “Y-yes, Your Majesty. If everything goes according to the General’s plan, then he should have reached the Imperial Palace by now. He has asked me to request a command from Your Majesty if he should attack or not if confronted with Yaoguang’s royal family.”

“Attack or not? Humph! If the King of Yaoguang intended to surrender, he would’ve done so much earlier. With that thickheadedness, he and his men will fight to their last breath. If they all want to die, then let them die!”

Upon hearing those words, the Chancellor rushed over to beneath the king’s throne and got down to his knees, “Your Majesty, please reconsider! It is too early to tell. I think the situation right now is unclear. If we terminate an entire royal family, I am afraid we will gain the title of a tyrant. Perhaps, it is best to have General Sheng wait outside the Imperial Palace with his men and let Yaoguang’s king surrender willingly.”

“Chancellor, Yaoguang is now no different from a wasteland. They have got nothing left to lose, and I am not afraid of extinguishing an entire state either if it guarantees us victory, especially a state as insignificant as Yaoguang.”

“But Your Majesty…!” The Chancellor hesitated. He knew it was difficult to change his ruler’s mind.

“Chancellor,” Ling Guang interrupted. “You are putting too many worries into this. Yaoguang is just a tiny state by our borders that believe just because they have a few gold mines to their name means they can view themselves as equal to us and the other three states. My mind is set. You needn’t say more.”

As much as the Chancellor wanted to continue pleading, Ling Guang sent him a glare that told him his words would be useless. He could only keep his thoughts to himself and said defeatedly, “Your old subject understands and will wholeheartedly assist General Sheng.”

Ling Guang smiled. “Good.” He looked up at the rest of the officials standing in the court who has not spoken a single word. “Any other of my beloved subjects have something to report?”

An official standing in the back stepped out from his position and spoke with his head lowered, “Your Majesty, Lieutenant General Qiu Zhen, son of ex-High General Qiu Tianhao, requested to meet with Your Majesty earlier but I have denied his request. He refused to leave so I ordered him to wait in the Imperial Garden–“

Before the official could even finish his sentence, Ling Guang stood up from his throne. “Qiu Zhen?! He has returned?! Why did you not notify me earlier?!” Ling Guang expressed a smile of excitement. “Today’s royal court assembly is dismissed! All my subjects are excused.”

Ling Guang held onto both sides of the flares of his purple robe and immediately rushed to the Imperial Garden before the officials in the court could even properly acknowledge their king’s departure.

The sun is bright out. Flowers are blooming and birds are chirping in the Imperial Garden.

Ling Guang hurried over to the extravagant white-stone pavilion in the center of the garden as he spotted the shadow of someone familiar standing beneath it.

“Qiu Zhen! Qiu Zhen!” he yelled out as he finally reached the pavilion.

Qiu Zhen turned around to see the beautiful man dressed in purple robes, whose appearance could light up a night sky with no stars, calling out his name. He lowered his head and greeted, “Your Majesty.”

Ling Guang grabbed Qiu Zhen’s cupped hands and said with a warm smile, “There’s just you and me. No need for formalities.”

All the guards were standing a couple feet away outside of the pavilion, leaving just the two under the shade.

Qiu Zhen did not respond and simply looked at Ling Guang.

Ling Guang studied the face he has longed to see for months before saying, “Look how skinny you have gotten…”

He looked down and suddenly realized that Qiu Zhen was wearing nothing but white garments, completely stripped of his armor or usual silk clothing.

He was dressed like a peasant.

Ling Guang shouted alarmingly, “Why are you dressed like this?! Who dares to treat you like this?!”

“It is no one other than you, Your Majesty,” Qiu Zhen replied monotonously.

“I…” Ling Guang looked at him in disbelief. “Qiu Zhen…”

“Your Majesty, I came here today to ask you a question.”

Ling Guang could not bear to look at Qiu Zhen in the eyes anymore and changed his direction to somewhere else. “…what do you want to know?”

Qiu Zhen’s eyes, never leaving the person standing before him, calmly asked, “What place do I hold in your heart?”

End of Chapter 1

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Got my first vote so I have decided to upload Chapter 1! Your comments and votes are my encouragement! Thank you!**If you have not already, be sure to read the prologue! It is essential to the plot!See you in Chapter 2!





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