// Chapter 2 : Thunderclap
27 May 2019

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Ling Guang looked at Qiu Zhen in surprise. As if a million thoughts were running through his mind, he remained quiet for a while before turning away and taking a couple of steps forward.

With his back facing Qiu Zhen, he softly said, “You and I grew up together. We had a lot of great memories growing up–like in this Imperial Garden right here. That year I was only 9 and you were 12…”

Ling Guang smiled sweetly to himself as he recalled his childhood memories with Qiu Zhen and continued, “I said I wanted the single purple flower that grew on a branch on top of that tree over there. You said by the end of the season, more flowers will grow on the lower branches, but I said I didn’t want to wait so you climbed on top of the tree to pick it for me. Do you still remember?”

Ling Guang glanced at Qiu Zhen with hopeful eyes. The thousands of flowers in this garden were indeed beautiful, but none could be compared to Ling Guang’s beauty. He stood out like a delicate orchid in a field of plain weeds.

Qiu Zhen let out a chuckle. “I do remember. I was an impulsive kid. Because I climbed up to pick that flower for you, I fell down, broke my ankle, and couldn’t walk for weeks. Father found out about my mischief and gave me a hard lecture. I was forced to eat white porridge and stay in my room for weeks. Only Your Majesty was willing to sneak me some chicken drumsticks or else I would be stuck eating bland porridge.”

Ling Guang glanced at the tree in the distance that harbored many pleasant memories. It has grown taller but still had beautiful purple flowers just like in his younger years. “If only we never grew up and stayed forever carefree like when we were kids, wouldn’t everything be so much better?”

“Your Majesty, time moves on and people will change.”

Ling Guang sighed, “You’re correct. My journey from becoming a duke to king was not easy. Your family has assisted me a great deal. Along the way, I was faced with many challenges and you were always there to assist me. We’ve been through a lot together. Qiu Zhen, tell me.” He turned to Qiu Zhen and said, “what place in my heart do you think you hold?”

After some thought, Qiu Zhen replied, “Your Majesty at this moment, I really can’t tell.”

“I knew when I made the decision to carry out the execution against your father, you will come find me. You must really hate me.”

“No.”

Ling Guang’s eyes widened. “Huh? You don’t blame me?”

Qiu Zhen shook his head and took a step closer to Ling Guang. “When I was guarding the fort at the borders and heard of the Royal Decree, I took the best horse and rode back day and night without stopping. I wanted to see you immediately. I wanted to ask why. I was very angry and confused. My mind was all over the place. My family’s loyalty to Tianxuan, nobody understands it more than Your Majesty. I could not fathom how you were…were cruel enough to execute my father. But now I understand.”

Ling Guang gave him a puzzled look.

Qiu Zhen continued, “After much persuasion, the guard and official finally allowed me to see you. They said they couldn’t promise me anything, but will make the attempt to notify you and ordered me to wait here. While I was here, I overheard many things. I also ran into Minister Yan. He told me that our men were one step away from taking control of Yaoguang’s capital. Had we succeeded, it would prove to be a great feat in our war against Yaoguang. More importantly, it would prove to Juntian and the 3 other vassal states that our army was able to take over an entire capital in a mere 5 days. But Father refused to lead his army into the capital to assist General Sheng. Yaoguang’s citizens were already dying of starvation due to the prolonged battles, but Father still refused to invade, giving Juntian and Yaoguang the opportunity to regain favor and wipe out 2,000 of General Sheng’s men. All the officials of the court were furious and insistently demanded Father be punished for disobeying Your Majesty’s orders.”

Ling Guang sighed, “He caused us to lose 2,000 talented soldiers to save the dying citizens of Yaoguang. As a seasoned High General, I was very disappointed in him. But at the same time, the blood, sweat, and tears he has spilled for Tianxuan over the years cannot be overlooked. ”

“Father has dedicated his entire life fighting for Tianxuan, but he made a fatal mistake this time due to his soft-heartedness. His crime cannot be forgiven, but as his son, I cannot blame him. Your Majesty, that is why you ordered his punishment to be poison wine, isn’t it? So he can die in one piece?”

“I could not bear to have High General Qiu and his family be subjected to beheadings. Qiu Zhen, I am sorry. I cannot give them a proper burial ceremony either. For disobeying my orders, High General Qiu has committed treason and will be written down as a traitor in Tianxuan’s history books. It is a law even I cannot change.”

Qiu Zhen scoffed defeatedly. “All my ancestors were celebrated heroes. They risked their lives to bring glory to the Qiu family. Being written as a traitor is even worse than death for Father. I’ve always thought I would die on the battlefield,” He glanced over at Ling Guang, “or die for someone I cherish the most, but it looks like I am bound to die a shameful death.”

“No. I will not let you die,” Ling Guang stated assuredly.

Qiu Zhen looked at Ling Guang in surprise.

Ling Guang said sternly, “What if I asked you, in exchange for freedom and your family honor, to infiltrate the Juntian Empire and assassinate its ruler, Emperor Qikun?”

End of Chapter 2

⚔️——————————⚔️

Things are about to start rolling! New characters are about to take the stage!

See you in chapter 3!

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