Shi Sheng shooed off a dumbstruck Xu Kong.
Once she returned to her palace, she took out the silk pouch Ming Jin had given her. It was green, with a dragon pattern sewn in a darker tone on top.
‘Fuck a dog! This Ming Jin is very arrogant ah! Actually dared to use a pouch with a pattern like this!’
Shi Sheng opened the pouch. It contained a jade pendant as well as a small strip of paper.
On the paper was written:
A love token.
‘What…the hell! He even dares to flirt with one of the Emperor’s concubines? Did he eat Sanlu?’
Shi Sheng checked out the jade pendant. It seemed pretty valuable.
“Mistress.” Tao Qin was currently making the bed. Hearing Shi Sheng call for her, she immediately jogged over.
“Give this to Xu Kong. Tell him it’s to clear the debt.”
“Mistress, it’s Master Xu Kong.” Tao Qin corrected.
“Whatever. Hurry up.”
Tao Qin had never seen this pendant before, so she was rather curious, but didn’t dare to dally since Shi Sheng told her to hand it to Master Xu Kong. ‘It’s a long way to leave the palace, so I should be able to catch up if I go after him now.’
Ming Jin emerged from the Hall of Mental Cultivation. The radiant moonlight drew his shadow out, where it overlapped with the swaying shadows of his surroundings to form a rather terrifying dark mass.
“Master, you were too reckless just now.” The youth draped a cloak in his hands around Ming Jin, lowering his voice to speak to the latter.
‘Master actually spoke up for Yun Jie Yu! Isn’t that just asking for the Emperor to be suspicious of us?’
Ming Jin pulled his cloak around him. The night wind rustled and brushed against his cheeks, sending his dark hair flying.
His voice was broken up by the wind, but was still audible.
“It’s a waste of youth to not be reckless.”
“Master, don’t forget…”
“Zhi Yuan.” Ming Jin lightly interrupted him.
Zhi Yuan knew he’d been too loose with his tongue—they were still in the palace, so a single wrong word was enough to bring misfortune on them.
It was deep into the night, so the palace was very quiet.
Ming Jin leisurely made his way out of the palace. Zhi Yuan bribed the imperial guards to to open the gates.
“Wait up, wait up!”
Xu Kong shot out from the darkness and rushed over, though he tried to maintain his lofty image by slowing down somewhat as he got closer, his head held high as he walked past the guards.
The palace gates groaned heavily as they shut.
Xu Kong greeted Ming Jin, “Sir Ming, what a coincidence.”
Ming Jin nodded slightly, but his gaze suddenly halted.
“Why is Master’s jade pendant with you?” Zhi Yuan was the first to react, charging over to snatch the pendant from Xu Kong’s hand.
“Hey!” Xu Kong held tightly to the pendant. “Yun Jie Yu gave me this; what do you mean it’s your Master’s?”
“Yun Jie Yu?” Zhi Yuan blanked out, but it was soon followed by anger. “Nonsense! Why would Master’s pendant be with Yun Jie Yu?!”
Both of them clutched onto opposing ends of the pendant, neither willing to release it.
Ming Jin produced a stack of banknotes from his sleeve and handed it to Xu Kong. “I’ll exchange it for banknotes.”
Seeing the banknotes, Xu Kong’s eyes lit up. He took and counted them before, with a beaming smile on his face, handing the jade pendant back to Zhi Yuan. “Since it belongs to Sir Ming, then I shall return it.”
“You!” ‘Master actually needed to fork out money to get his own possession back, and this damn priest calls it “returning”?!’
“It’s getting late, so this one will take his leave.” Xu Kong clutched the silver notes in his hand as he ran off like there was wind beneath his feet. ‘I gotta leave this place!’
“Master…” Zhi Yuan wiped the jade clean before handing it to Ming Jin. “This pendant?”
‘Why was it with Yun Jie Yu?’
“I gave it to her.” Ming Jing sighed. “A shame she didn’t want it.”
“Master, don’t be ridiculous! How could you just give your jade pendant to Yun Jie Yu?! She’s the Emperor’s concubine!” Zhi Yuan flared up. ‘Out of so many women, why did Master take a liking to the Emperor’s woman?! And even gifted her something so important!’
“What of it?”
‘“What of it?”!
Master, are you even listening to me?!’
“She’s the Emperor’s concubine!” Zhi Yuan emphasized.
Cool moonlight illuminated Ming Jin’s face, adding a hint of coldness to his normally gentle features. He turned back slightly, specks of moonlight raising ripples in his eyes. He looked at the towering walls of the imperial city, and his lips moved slightly. “And so what?”
Zhi Yuan was so angry he started hyperventilating, yet was too helpless to do anything. ‘There’s pretty much no convincing Master once he’s made up his mind… Just what’s so good about that Zhuang Qiong? She’s already…’
Ming Jin and Zhi Yuan were completely dumbstruck upon entering their residence—the whole place was in shambles.
‘Why does it look like a scene after bandits have entered a village?’
“Sir…” A dishevelled looking servant stumbled as he ran over. “Sir, you’re finally back!”
“What happened?” Zhi Yuan anxiously asked.
The servant panted as he pointed towards where all the noise was coming from. “The sword Sir brought back…is being troublesome.”
‘Sword?’ Ming Jin started to walk over, prompting Zhi Yuan to abandon his line of questioning to hurriedly follow the former.
The coldly gleaming sword floated in mid-air, surrounded by the thoroughly wrecked remains of the buildings in the area.
Several servants stood at a distance, gesticulating at the sword.
When Ming Jin approached, the group immediately surrounded him. “Sir, Sir, is this sword a divine weapon with a spirit like in the rumours?”
‘Not long after Sir left, this sword started acting up! If anyone dared to try and stop it, they got hacked!’
Zhu Yuan examined the sword. “Sir, this sword that you took from the academy…just who does it belong to?”
‘It can actually float in the air all on its own!’
Ming Jin’s gaze turned slightly solemn.
The sword continued hacking apart the room, as if it was chopping radishes.
‘I tested the sword this afternoon, and it didn’t appear as sharp as it does now.
So…this sword truly possesses a spirit?’
Word in jianghu had it that the best of weapons could birth their own spirits, but no one ever verified it for themselves, so this remained but a rumour.
This was definitely the first time he’d witnessed a sword with its own spirit.
“Sir, quickly stop it ah! If it keeps hacking like this, where are we going to stay?!”
Proof of Shu Fei poisoning the young prince was discovered in the end. Due to her family’s position, Yuwen Xun didn’t execute her, but instead consigned her to the cold palace.
The young prince’s life was no longer in danger, but Lu Ruo was still punished by Yuwen Xun for her negligence in watching over him.
Tao Qin reported all these to Shi Sheng.
Ever since Yuwen Xun gave her the 10 day deadline, he no longer attempted to poison, trick, or assassinate Shi Sheng, so she finally got several days reprieve.
“Mistress, it’s the final day tomorrow.” ‘Will what Mistress said really come true?’
“What’re you worried about? It’ll still take a few days for news to travel here.” Shi Sheng spoke in a relaxed tone. “Did you ask around like I told you to?”
“Yes—there has never been a Weiyang Palace before.”
Shi Sheng fell silent.
“Mistress, just what are you looking for?” Tao Qin was truly curious.
‘If only I(bbb) knew what I’m(bbb) supposed to be looking for.’
Shi Sheng sprawled over the table listlessly. ‘System, I dare you to give me another hint!
Just two names for a hint is really screwing with me… I got no leads.’
[Host, didn’t you claim you were smart?] ‘The time has come for an IQ test! Go, Pikachu!’
‘Where’s my(lz) sword?! Oh, right, still hacking apart Ming Jin’s place.’
The sword only went to work at night, remaining motionless during the day. So the cycle of the place being repaired during the day and destroyed at night continued.
And yet, despite this, Ming Jin still hadn’t returned her sword to her.
‘Scared. There’s a pervert coveting me(bbb).’
[……] ‘You have the gall to call others a pervert, when you’re one yourself?’
 In case you didn’t know, only the Emperor is allowed to use the dragon motif. Sometimes, he’ll allow his sons to use it, but they generally use snakes (at least in the Qing Dynasty, I believe).
 Sanlu was a company that produced milk powder formula, but got into hot soup when they were involved in a scandal with adulterating the formula to include dangerous chemicals. Some people believe (or at least like to use in a meme) that it caused problems with some children’s IQ.