Star Odyssey - Chapter 652

As he watched Ming Yan lower her head, Ming Zhaoshu solemnly said, “Liuzhou was actually the first island that tried to rebel against me. This minister is someone who also used to advise the late emperor, and he had a very good relationship with the previous crown prince, Ming Hao. Now that I have succeeded the throne, he is afraid that I will deal with him for his past transgressions against me. As such, he has pled guilty to embezzling military funds. His guilty plea is not a sincere one, as he merely wants to shift the dirty evidence that we have on him out into the open, thereby allowing me to execute him at any given moment. When it comes to someone who we have the liberty of executing at any time, there is nothing to worry about. He is doing this to draw closer to me. In other words, he is demonstrating his loyalty, and for this reason, he is unafraid of me punishing him for this transgression. 

“That is also why the embezzled sum is not a huge sum. If too much had been embezzled, then not even I would be able to protect him. Do you understand?”

Ming Yan suddenly raised her head to look at Ming Zhaoshu, her eyes a deep red. “Father, I do not understand why you want me to learn all of these things. I have no wish to participate in political affairs, and I want nothing to do with such matters. Why do you insist on forcing me down this path?” 

Ming Zhaoshu clenched his fist, and an unresigned look appeared in his eyes. 

“You are still young, and you still have the opportunity to have another son who can ascend the throne. I do not wish to take part in politics, so please let me off. I want to go to the Great Yu Empire,” Ming Yan quietly begged her father as her tears fell to the ground.  

She had been through a lot over the past few days, and she had also been placed under a level of stress that was previously unknown to her. Every day, her father would place similar questions and scenarios before her, but she was completely unprepared to handle them, and neither did she wish to learn how to. She was a rather simple girl, and all she wanted to do at this time was go to the Great Yu Empire and meet up with her special someone. The stress that she had been placed under over the past couple of days had made her miss him even more. She missed his hugs and the comforting sense of reassurance that he always gave her.  

Ming Zhaoshu did not speak, and no one could understand how uncomfortable he was feeling about what he was currently doing. If he still had any sort of choice in the matter, he would have also chosen for his daughter to live a carefree life. On top of that, he himself wanted to enjoy the fruits of his labors after suffering for so many years, during which he could not even consider having a son. But now, it seemed like everything was going wrong. 

“Get out.” Ming Zhaoshu said, looking rather depressed. 

Ming Yan stood up, bowed to Ming Zhaoshu, and left his study.  

Before long, Tang Si’s voice came through the door. “Your Majesty, an envoy from the Great Yu Empire, Miss En Ya, would like to meet with you.” 

Ming Zhaoshu’s eyes lit up. “Send her in, hurry!”

In a sitting room of the Reverent King’s Residence, En Ya looked up as Ming Zhaoshu entered, and she bowed unhurriedly. “En Ya is humbled by your presence, Your Majesty.”

Ming Zhaoshu laughed. “Miss En Ya, there is no need for such formalities. Please sit.”

En Ya took out Lu Yin’s letter and passed it over to Ming Zhaoshu, along with a cosmic ring. “His Highness has written everything that he wishes to convey in this letter. Please read it, Your Majesty.”

Ming Zhaoshu could barely wait to open the letter.  

En Ya carefully observed Ming Zhaoshu throughout their exchange. She felt slightly confused as this man gave off the aura of a weak cultivator, which puzzled En Ya. Ming Zhaoshu was known for being amazingly talented; after all, he had comprehended a forcefield. While still in the Cruiser realm, he had fought against a Hunter like Ming Zhaotian. He had also patiently bided his time for many years. With all that said, he should have given off the vibe of someone in high spirits, not the current aura that she felt was reminiscent of an old man’s. 

His Highness had repeatedly asked her to observe Ming Zhaoshu, so could it be that Ming Zhaoshu was suffering from poor health? 

Ming Zhaoshu placed the letter down as he stared longingly at the cosmic ring. He then turned to En Ya and said, “The Royal Regent has said all that he wishes to in this letter. Miss En Ya, I will have someone escort you to your quarters to rest for the night. Whatever you may wish to discuss, can we address it tomorrow?” 

En Ya nodded her head and stood up. “Very well. I will see you tomorrow, Your Majesty.”

Ming Zhaoshu quickly got Tang Si to lead En Ya away, after which he promptly returned to his study. He took out the billowing star from the cosmic ring and held it tightly in his hands. “Ah, it has developed a spiritual nature and is trying to escape.” Even as he thought about this, he swallowed the billowing star whole. 

An ordinary billowing star had been enough to heal Undying Yushan’s injuries in the past, and thus, as far as Lu Yin was concerned, a billowing star that had reached the level where it instinctively avoided danger should certainly be able to neutralize Ming Zhaoshu’s poison. Alas, the result turned out to be a failure. 

Ming Zhaoshu studied himself in the mirror. He had not dared to look at his old wrinkled face ever since he had used his cultivation to put on his original appearance. At the moment, even though he looked a bit younger after ingesting the billowing star, he still looked like an old man. Besides his obvious appearance, he still felt his life force continuing to drain away. While the billowing star had helped him regain some of his life force, it had been unable to neutralize the poison. 

Just who was it that had poisoned him? Why had that person used such a potent poison? Ming Zhaoshu grieved for a moment as he took out the rare ingredients that Lu Yin had sent him and consumed them all at once. He managed to somewhat regain his youthful looks, but there was still no way to stop his life force from continuously dwindling away. 

With a loud boom, Ming Zhaoshu angrily stomped on the floor, which caused all of Shanhai City to tremble. This startled Tang Si and the others so badly that they rushed into the emperor’s quarters. 

“I am fine. I was just cultivating,” Ming Zhaoshu replied to their concerned looks with a low growl. Upon hearing this, Tang Si and the others had their worries squashed, and they all left the room. 

Ming Zhaoshu was a very intelligent man, and it was this intelligence that allowed him to be so perceptive towards the many situations around him. For example, he knew that Lu Yin truly wanted to heal him. As long as Ming Zhaoshu was around, Ming Yan would be able to travel to the Great Yu Empire without any worries. The Shenwu Empire was a cornerstone of the Great Eastern Alliance, and if Lu Yin was unable to neutralize the poison plaguing the continent’s emperor in such circumstances, then it could be said that there was no one who could do so.  

Given Lu Yin’s status and capabilities in the Outerverse, Lu Yin not having a cure for Ming Zhaoshu meant that the older man was doomed unless the person who had poisoned him happened to appear. 

However, Ming Zhaoshu did not have the faintest hint as to who had poisoned him. His best guess was that it was someone from the Neohuman Alliance, and in fact, it had even crossed his mind to promise the Neohuman Alliance whatever they wanted as long as they gave him the antidote. But despite that flicker of desire, to date, no one from the Neohuman Alliance had ever appeared before him. 

From what he had gathered from the outsiders, he knew how vicious this organization was. He was also well aware of how the outside universe viewed the Neohuman Alliance, which meant that he knew that whichever road he ended up taking, his ending would not be pretty.  

Ming Zhaoshu cooped himself up within his residence for two entire days, and he even skipped the appointment that he had set with En Ya. It was only on the third day that he called out for Ming Yan from his study.  

“You’ve been asking me why I keep forcing you, and today, I will tell you the reason why.” As he spoke, Ming Zhaoshu returned to his true appearance and revealed his pale, aged face. The person who had appeared in front of Ming Yan now was not the brilliant father from her memory, but rather an old, dying man. 

Ming Yan’s pupils shrank, and she covered her mouth, stunned by the unbelievable sight before her. 

Ming Zhaoshu agonizingly opened his mouth to explain. “I have been poisoned by something that no one has an antidote for, and I do not have long to live. Do you now understand why I wish for you to learn how to handle political matters? It is because you will inherit the Shenwu Empire.” 

Ming Yan shook her head, tears streaming down her cheeks. She inched closer to Ming Zhaoshu as she sobbed. “Father, why did things turn out like this? Who was it that poisoned you?”

Ming Zhaoshu closed his eyes. “Success and failure is decided by the heavens, and our lives are not our own to lead. Yan’er, I do not have much time left. The great Shenwu Empire cannot fall into others’ hands. You are the one who will inherit the Shenwu Empire.” 

“I don’t want to inherit the empire! I just want Father to live.” Ming Yan yelled.

Ming Zhaoshu sighed. “Silly girl, everyone would want to live forever if possible.” 

***

En Ya again visited the Reverent King’s Residence to meet with Ming Zhaoshu. However, Tang Si had disappointing news for her. “His Majesty is attending to certain political matters, Miss En Ya. Please go back and rest and we will contact you shortly.” 

En Ya frowned and replied in a somewhat cold voice, “It seems that His Majesty is not taking the Great Yu Empire very seriously. Could it be that he is going back on his word?”

Tang Si quickly responded, “Miss En Ya, please do not overthink matters. It is just that His Majesty has been feeling a bit under the weather recently. That, coupled with the fact that he has to handle so many political affairs, has resulted in him not having much time for anything else. Even the princess is in the study, helping His Majesty with his administrative duties.” 

“Even Princess Ming Yan is there?” En Ya asked in astonishment. Her expression changed to one of contemplation. 

In a courtyard of the Reverent King’s Residence, Ming Yan held onto Ming Zhaoshu as they walked around. Ming Zhaoshu shook his head. “Yan’er, I am fine. You can release me.”

Ming Yan was heartbroken. “I’m sorry, Father. I have been nothing but a disappointment to you all this time.” 

Ming Zhaoshu looked up at the five sealing planets in the sky as he replied to her, “The Universe is vast and boundless. Yan’er, would you like to explore it?” 

Ming Yan shook her head. “I don’t want to go anywhere. I just want to be with you.”

Ming Zhaoshu muttered to himself. “Even if you do not want to go out, others will still want to come in.”

Ming Yan twitched, and she raised her head to look up at the five sealing planets, a complex look in her eyes.  

“The people outside have always coveted Shenwu Continent, despite the presence of the five sealing planets. Our safety is not guaranteed. The Shenwu Continent must join forces with others in order to deal with our enemies. The Shenwu Empire must be internally stable, and it also needs the backing of an outside power. The force that I am referring to is the Great Yu Empire. In other words, Lu Yin,” Ming Zhaoshu explained as he looked at Ming Yan.  

“Lu Yin and you both like each other, and I will not stop the two of you from being together. However, I must remind you that you cannot always rely on others. While I am still alive, I am able to support you, but when I am no longer here, you will need to learn to stand on your own. Even if you do marry Lu Yin in the future, it cannot be with your current status as a princess; it must be with the status of the Empress of the Shenwu Empire.” 

Ming Yan stared at Ming Zhaoshu with eyes that were full of confusion about her future. “Empress?” 

Ming Zhaoshu caressed Ming Yan’s head as he continued to explain in spite of his emotional agony. “You must inherit the empire. Lu Yin may like you at present, but do not think that you can lord over him, as that is not a practical goal. The universe is just too large, and it is impossible to know what his future holds. There might be scores of women surrounding him as well, women who have various powerful backings and capabilities. If you are nothing more than a pretty face at his side, then you will quickly become expendable. Whether it is for yourself or for the empire, you must inherit the position of empress. You must govern our empire well!” 

Ming Yan looked like a deer caught in headlights, and her thoughts were all over the place.

“I cannot give you too much time, but during this period, I will do my best to help you eliminate the empire’s hidden dangers. However, the road ahead is yours to walk alone, and I will not be able to be there for you,” Ming Zhaoshu said gloomily. 

Ming Yan’s fingers curled up as she tightly clenched her father’s sleeve. She hung her head, and her entire body started to tremble.

***

In the Great Yu Empire, Liuying Zishan was the only one who had remained behind after a cabinet meeting.  

“Your Highness, Duke Jadestone from Darkstar Gorge wishes to speak with you,” Liuying Zishan respectfully informed Lu Yin. 

“Duke Jadestone? The one who betrayed Darkstar Gorge and incited widescale deaths, including even that of Puyu’s parents?” Lu Yin asked.  

Liuying Zishan nodded in response. “Yes, that is the person. The empire wishes for Adonis Weave to join the Great Eastern Alliance. The strongest power in Adonis Weave is Darkstar Gorge, and this man is the one who we need to meet with to initiate negotiations with Darkstar Gorge.” 

“What does he want to discuss with me?” Lu Yin asked, curious.

Liuying Zishan replied, “He said that he has some information that he would like to offer to you in exchange for freedom.” 

“Freedom? He doesn’t want to help us convince Darkstar Gorge?” Lu Yin asked grumpily. 

Liuying Zishan remained silent. 

En Ya was the person who had drawn up the contract for the Great Eastern Alliance. Moreover, she had been assisted by some people from Mafioso Planet who had secretly threatened the powerhouses of other weaves. In the end, she was merely the architect of the alliance whereas the actual builders were the Thirteen Imperial Squadrons. For example, the ones who had taken care of the Six-Fingered Tribe from Lars Weave was the Fifth Imperial Squadron, and Adonis Weave was being handled by the Thirteenth Squadron, which was led by Liuying Zishan. 

“Alright then, let’s meet with him,” Lu Yin replied casually.