Inside Xiliu’s imperial palace, there was an obscure courtyard lined with wutong trees. Hidden in the dreary shadows, someone had been tied tightly to a chair, as if someone was afraid that the prisoner may escape.


As for the prisoner themselves, their hair was disheveled, but you would still be able to tell that they had kept themselves physically fit. The man’s face was covered by a mask, making only his eyes visible.


After some amount of time, a guard walked in and regarded the prisoner with disdain. “Time for food. Eat or starve.”


He then put a bowl of gruel on the table with a loud thud, spilling half its contents out at the same time.


Walking over to the prisoner, he then unlocked a mechanism on the mask to reveal a pair of shapely lips. The guard then began forcing the gruel down the prisoner’s throat, taking note of the latter’s cold glare and clenched fists.


“What, not happy? Let me tell you this. General Li calls the shots now. We’ll have your dog life if you continue like this. There are countless others eyeing the throne, Hua Zirong. You’d better know your place.”


Indeed, the prisoner was none other than Xiliu’s monarch, Hua Zirong. Though that was his title, he was currently being treated no differently than a death row prisoner by Li Zikang.


Hua Zirong shut his eyes, refusing to make further eye contact with the guard before him. Even so, his bulging veins made it apparent that he felt angry and indignant at his current situation.


The guard wanted to chide him further, but the door was kicked open before he could say anything.


Huffing and puffing, Li Zikang walked in and grabbed the prisoner by his collar.


“The Western Region King has already been captured by me, and Prince Hao is next. No one will be able to save you now, so you’d better not play any tricks. I’ll kill you if you do anything out of the ordinary at the evening banquet tomorrow.”


Hearing Pei Qianhao being mentioned, Hua Zirong felt a bit of hope, knowing how formidable Beimin’s prince was.


Seeing Hua Zirong’s reaction, Li Zikang’s fury was only further stoked. 


“What? Still hoping for something impossible?” He then turned to a guard before saying, “Men, bring him here.”


A man dressed in ordinary clothes was being brought forward shortly after, but Hua Zirong couldn’t help but be visibly shocked. How can this be?


“Look alike, don’t you think so? I’ll switch you guys around if you aren’t on your best behaviour; then you’ll be condemned by everyone for trying to pretend to be the Emperor. How does that idea sound?” Li Zikang gloated while throwing out his threat.


Knowing that Li Zikang was despicable enough to follow through with such a plan, Hua Zirong decided to compromise and nodded. “I agree.”


“That’s more like it; smart people know how to adapt.”


Glee filled Li Zikang after Hua Zirong agreed.


“Clean and dress our Emperor well. I want to see him looking fresh and healthy tomorrow,” Li Zikang ordered a guard who nodded respectfully in response.


Seeing that things were more or less settled here, Li Zikang left the gloomy compound quickly, itching to report his progress to his master and ask for a reward.


Because of Li Zikang’s orders, the guard didn’t verbally abuse Hua Zirong, and instead started to tidy up his hair with a comb.


Though extremely unwilling, Hua Zirong knew that the only thing he could do now was to go with the flow and wait for an opportunity.

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Rakumon's Thoughts

Translator: Hilda

Editor: Lunarlark

Proofreader: Rakumon