A Step into the Past

Volume 2 Chapter 8

Book 2 Chap 8 – The Empress of Zhao

When he returned to the Palace, Wu Tingfang was overjoyed and after grumbling for a bit, she dragged him to the pavilion in the garden for some sweet talk.

A moment later Lady Ya returned with a shocking news. King Xiaowen of Qin who has ascended the throne for less than 3 days suddenly died, and Ying Zheng’s father has taken over the throne as King Zhuangxiang.

Lady Ya said, “King Xiaowen is 53 years old this year, and has always been weak, but this time he died after eating the medicine offered by Lu Buwei, so everyone suspects that Lu Buwei has secretly done something. But because of the relationship between King Zhuangxiang and Lu Buwei, no one dares to say anything although they’re upset. Hai! This Lu Buwei is extremely ambitious, and his methods vicious and excellent. Now all the other states are afraid that the Qin army will start to invade east very quickly.”

Xiang Shaolong was surprised and overjoyed at the news, and thought that the events are really similar to what was depicted in the movie. However he knows that the most important task for Lu Buwei now is not to attack the other 6 states, but to find a way to get his precious son Yingzheng back to Xianyang, then think of a way to murder King Zhuangxiang. In that way the throne will fall into the hands of his son, and he will become in a sense the Grand Emperor.

Lady Ya continued, “Lu Buwei has been a merchant for many years and traveled among the states, so he’s very familiar with the situation in all the states. If he were to come to power, the outcome will be terrible. Merchants only care about gains and not loyalty, and are not bounded by loyalty. The thought of a person like that governing the expansion is enough to make one’s blood run cold.”

Xiang Shaolong was thinking about Yingzheng instead. All along, historians did not understand that when his father Yiren and Lu Buwei escaped Handan, they left behind Zhaoji and Yingzheng to avoid arousing suspicions, but why didn’t that Zhaos kill Yingzheng and his mother to appease their anger.

Now he understood, that is Zhao Mu’s ploy, deliberately thinning Yingzheng’s mind with wine and beauty, making him a useless person. They can then use him to make deals with the Qin in future, and even if he becomes the King, a useless person like him will be more bane than boon to the Qins. Killing 2 birds with one stone, the ploy is indeed vicious. It seems that Zhao Mu has now succeeded, so how can Emperor Qin unify the 6 states then?

He really has no idea.

But if he does not see Emperor Qin, he will never give up.

It’s not difficult to imagine that now that Yiren has ascended the throne to become the Qin King, the value of Yingzheng who is now the crown prince will rise. Now that he’s a rare treasure, the Zhaos will certainly guard him even more closely, so how can he possibly meet him without arousing others’ suspicions?

Wu Tingfang came up to him and asked, “What is Xiang Lang thinking about?”

Xiang Shaolong was jolted awake and on seeing Lady Ya’s heated eyes staring at him, he changed the subject and asked, “Who is the Premier in Qin how? What’s the situation like?”

Lady Ya sighed, “It doesn’t matter who is in power, the position of Premier will end up in Lu Buwei’s hands sooner or later.”

Wu Tingfang asked curiously, “Why is Sister Ya so afraid of the Qins?”

Lady Ya replied helplessly, “It’s not that I’m afraid of them, but there’s no one who is not afraid of them. You can see clearly from our state, who is not engaged in amorous acts, wine and beauty. When the enemy soldiers are nearing the city, they’ll pull themselves together for a while and once the enemy is defeated, they’ll return to their old ways. However the Qins still maintain the hard working nature of the barbarians and were not influenced by the ways of the southern people. Shangyang advised the Qins to prohibit philosophy books and the country will then prosper and strengthen. Although I do not know who is right or wrong, but seeing the Qins growing stronger day by day, who can say that it’s wrong of the Qins to prohibit philosophy books.”

Only now did Xiang Shaolong realize that before Emperor Qin burned books and buried Confucian scholars, Shangyang has already done this long ago, burning the books first.

Lady Ya added, “Before Fan Ju became the premier, the main power in Qin was in the hands of the Marquis of Rang, and those in power were people under him. He used the strategy of attacking the far away states but maintaining friendship with nearby states, thus making the Qin’s commanders frequently travel far away to fight battles, depleting the country’s strength. King Zhaoxiang therefore made plans secretly with Fan Ju to take back military control, and changed the strategy to attacking the nearby states but maintaining friendship with far away states. They made peace with Qi and Chu, and used all their might to deal with Han and us, therefore the Changping battle happened. And Imperial brother made the wrong move as well, hai!”

Xiang Shaolong saw the look of sadness in her eyes, and knows that she is now thinking of the Zhao Gua who can only talk strategy and lost his life in Changping. He felt a great pity for her so he hugged and kissed her, saying gently, “Let bygones be bygones, don’t think too much.”

Zhao Ya leaned into his arms weakly, “After the Marquis of Rang lost his power, one of his great generals Bai Qi was never on good terms with Fan Ju. In the battle of Changping, Bai Qi destroyed 400,000 of our men, his methods were never more cruel. Therefore Fan Ju made a big issue out of this and in the end managed to convince the Qin King to execute Bai Qi’s entire clan. This move resulted in the hatred of Qin’s generals towards an outsider like Fan Ju, and finally it’s now Cai Ze of Yan who is now the Premier. But Lu Buwei is riding on a high tide now, and the good days for Cai Ze will soon be over.”

Xiang Shaolong felt his joy run dry on hearing this, and felt that the future is bleak. In this era, everyone will murder if it can benefit himself. He hugged the 2 women and said, “Hai! Don’t think anymore. We’ll drink and be merry today, and leave all worries to tomorrow. Come! Let’s go into the room immediately and have fun.”

The 2 women’s pretty eyes shone and they repeated, “Drink and be merry today, and leave all worries to tomorrow. Well said, Xiang Lang.” They followed him obediently, their powered face burning.

Xiang Shaolong secretly thought to himself, how can he be bothered about what’s going to happen tomorrow? He only knows how to fight and knows nothing about politics, it’s a silly dream if he wants to change this era. Why not have fun instead, enjoy each beauty as they come, that would be more practical. Who knows if he’ll still be alive tomorrow, or if he’ll still be in this era?

He can’t help but think of the regal and elegant Zhao Ni.

Let’s see if he’ll have a chance to flirt with the lady tomorrow, that would certainly be a captivating experience and would not have put his journey here to waste.

As for whether he can still return to the 21st century, he doesn’t really care anymore.

Xiang Shaolong woke up before the sun rose, changed into his military uniform but without wearing his armor, left for the practice field to practice his horse riding and archery.

From now on he’s not going to think about the future, but only wants to spend his time enjoying life to the fullest.

The many years of habit made him like exercising, therefore his stamina is better than others. The amorous night he spent did not affect him much. Instead, if he doesn’t exercise, he’ll feel uncomfortable instead.

He humbly sought advice from the other imperial guards the various techniques of controlling a horse, therefore he improved by leaps and bounds. He was able to turn and flip at ease on horseback and execute various difficult moves. He also practiced hard on charging in battle. It’s just that he’s not too used to fighting a battle on a horse wearing heavy armor.

After a hard practice, he let Cheng Xu take him to the soldiers quarters assigned to him and after his shower, went to Lady Ni’s residence. Just as he was thinking how he should flirt with this beauty when he suddenly heard someone calling him.

Xiang Shaolong looked over in surprise and saw Lady Ni’s mischievous and lecherous son waving to him from a building on the left.

He obviously knows that it won’t be anything good but he’s not afraid at all and walked over with large strides.

The Little Master dashed into the building.

Xiang Shaolong secretly laughed to himself and heightened his senses. He had just stepped into the courtyard when there was a ‘whoosh’ and a huge net dropped down from above.

Xiang Shaolong laughed and rolled forward, avoiding the net and jumped up as if nothing happened, tapping the dust and grass off his clothes.

In the spacious courtyard 10 odd people holding swords jumped out from their hiding place and surrounded him. Master Pan was hiding behind a bigger kid who was a head taller than him and shouted, “Beat him up!”

Xiang Shaolong took a look around and wanted to laugh. These 10 odd people were between the ages of 14 to 17, and looks like little bullies in the royal family, and they actually dared to gang up to deal with him.

The bigger kid who was shielding the Little Master could have been Zhao’s crown prince, so how can he let him have a chance to reveal his status. He laughed and drew out his rainbow sword and went towards Master Pan.

2 swords hurriedly went up in defense.

Xiang Shaolong gave 2 heavy blows which stunned his opponents and their swords dropped to the ground, before giving them a kick on their butts. The 2 spoiled kids groaned as they fell to the ground.

Xiang Shaolong laughed as he waved his sword, slashing any sword that comes forward and kicking any butt that he sees and in a short while he defeated this royal gang. He pretended to roar and frightened this group of teenagers so much that they scattered away in fear.

Naturally he will not let Master Pan off and he flipped him over on the ground and using his sword, slapped his butt more than 10 times before lifting the wailing boy up and said icily, “If you cry one more time, I will give you 10 slaps.”

Master Pan has never seen someone so terrible and he immediately shut up.

Xiang Shaolong escorted him home. Lady Ni has long heard about what happened and was at the door waiting.

Once Master Pan sees his mother, he saw that he has backing and started crying again.

Lady Ni’s heart ached on seeing this and was about to console him when Xiang Shaolong said loudly, “Lady will either hand him over to me, or I will never interfere in future again.”

Lady Ni was startled and she lowered her head and said, “Of course I will hand him over to Mister!”

Xiang Shaolong smiled and said, “That would be best!” He lifted Master Pan by the scruff of his neck and dragged him into the study, keeping Lady Ni and the rest of the maids outside. He sat down on the soft cushion and grinned at Master Pan who was scrambling to get up from the floor with a look of absolute hatred.

Xiang Shaolong roared, “Sit down!”

Master Pan immediately sat down.

Xiang Shaolong said coldly, “Look! Look at you, you have no ability yourself so you went to look for help, thinking of bullying others by sheer numbers. And you cry and scream when you lose, what kind of a hero is that.”

Master Pan gritted his teeth and said, “You’re not a hero, the old bullying the young.”

Xiang Shaolong humph, “If you’re afraid of me, you won’t come and find trouble with me on your own accord. You know this is not a question of the old bullying the young, but a question of who is stronger and who is weaker.”

Master Pan was dumbfounded, he did not expect Xiang Shaolong to be so formidable. He thought for a moment before he tried to scare him by saying, “Just now you kicked Young Prince’s butt, he will certainly tell his Majesty to chop off your head.”

Xiang Shaolong sighed, “I see that you’re so young and yet you know how to flirt with women, and I thought you’re a person of standing. But I did not expect that when you lose to others, you only know how to use despicable methods. I was wrong about you, get lost! I do not want to see you ever again.”

Master Pan eyed his suspiciously and got up. He turned around and was about to leave when he turned back again and asked, “Why is it that when I made fun of these women, you regard me as a person of standing?”

Xiang Shaolong replied nonchalantly, “Most men are lecherous, it doesn’t matter if they’re young or old. When I saw you molesting that sister the other day, you did seem to have a hand with you and I thought your other skills would be good as well. But I did not expect you to be so useless. If you have some spirit in you then you should practice hard to be more capable than me and defeat me properly.”

It’s the first time Master Pan hear an adult admiring his evil ways, so he nodded his head and said, “Just you see! One day I will defeat you.”

Xiang Shaolong knows that he has successfully piqued his curiosity and thoughts of winning, so he said, “What’s the use of just saying it, just scram! I abhor those useless people who only knows how to talk empty. I hope you never have the chance to go to battle, or else it’ll not be something so simple as getting a kick on the butt.”

Youths have always idolized heroes. Xiang Shaolong is good looking and easily defeated the powerful man in his eyes, so he has long harbored a respect and fear for Xiang Shaolong. Now that Xiang Shaolong’s words sounded reasonable to his ears, he can’t help but felt his enmity reduce and he sat back down and said, “If I listen to you, will you teach me how you fought earlier?”

Xiang Shaolong’s eyes gleamed and he said, “Do you know how valuable my skills are, how can I just teach you just because of a word from your mother. If you want to learn, you’ll have to pass a test first.” He continued with a smile, “But if you’re obedient, not only can I make you become Zhao’s true hero and swordsman, I can also teach you how to become a love expert that will charm all women to death. All the beauties in the world will be yours to pick.”

Using both hard and soft tactics, Master Pan’s face brightened. Ever since his father passed away, he’s always envied others who has a father, and Xiang Shaolong just happen to fit into this emptiness. Naturally he did not realize it himself, but in his heart he actually thirst for someone like Xiang Shaolong to appear.

He was silent for a moment before he ventured to ask, “Really! What kind of test do I need to pass?”

Xiang Shaolong know that he cannot be slipshod about this matter, so he stood up and helped him up as well.

Just as Master Pan was surprised at the attention given to him, Xiang Shaolong lifted him up and flung him over his shoulder onto the rug, laughing loudly, “First is to get a beating. A person who cannot withstand a beating is not qualified to fight.”

Although Master Pan was thrown onto the floor, but he only felt a slight pain and thought that this was fun, so he jumped up.

Xiang Shaolong taught him a few moves of Judo on how to wrestle, and allowed Master Pan to trip him, so his interest was aroused. After a round of wrestling fun, and truly like a child’s character, he soon forgot all his hatred and enmity.

Xiang Shaolong tousled his head and said, “Go and look for some other people to try my methods! If you listen to instructions and are obedient, you’ll certainly become like me in future, tall and strong with extraordinary abilities.”

Master Pan shouted in joy and ran out the door.

Lady Ni who has been waiting outside the door all this while was dumbfounded; she cannot understand why her mischievous son would be so ecstatic?

She stepped into the study and looked dumbly at Xiang Shaolong, not knowing what to say at all.

Xiang Shaolong walked over and closed the door. He went behind her and said with a smile, “If I teach Little Master how to be close with women, what would Lady think?”

Lady Ni’s body shook and she turned around abruptly and asked hoarsely, “What?” She almost knocked into him, but she retreated, and this time it was only a small step back.

Xiang Shaolong said nonchalantly, “Children are all rebellious and curious. The more Lady tries to restrict him, the more he’ll want to break the rules. So if we let him know clearly what he is doing, what would be the consequences, what responsibility he’ll have to take, he’ll learn to control himself instead.”

Lady Ni stammered, “But he’s only 13!”

Xiang Shaolong asked, “How old was Lady when you got married?”

Lady Ni blushed and she lowered her gaze, “At that time I was only 14.”

Xiang Shaolong’s heart lurched and he said with a smile, “So! 13 is not considered too young, there are a lot of 15 year old males with wives and mistresses, and this is the case in the Palace as well. If Lady wants to stop him from getting close to women, it would be a very difficult task.”

Lady Ni said worriedly, “But I still keep thinking that he’s an immature kid. However Mister’s way of thinking is indeed astute and unique, I’ve never heard of anyone else who has such a thinking.”

Xiang Shaolong took the opportunity to look at her chest, waist and long limbs, thinking to himself that you’ll really know how unique a modern man like me is once you’re in bed.

Lady Ni was just stealing a peep at him and saw his heated eyes roving over her chest and was shocked, “Mister!”

Xiang Shaolong was embarrassed that she noticed his lecherous look and hurriedly took his leave.

Lady Ni wanted to retain him a little longer but she could find no excuse, so she can only send him out the door shyly.

Both of them were feeling guilty so they could feel that secret excitement although no words were spoken.

Xiang Shaolong returned to Lady Ya’s place and was about to have fun with the ladies when the King of Zhao suddenly summoned him, so he left hurriedly.

The guard brought him straight to the inner Palace. Xiang Shaolong remembered Cheng Xu’s warning and asked with furrowed brows, “Isn’t his Majesty working at the Outer Palace?”

The guard was expressionless as he replied, “I am only following orders, and do not know anything else.”

The 2 of them walked along the wide and long corridors in the palace, meeting ladies-in-waiting and concubines on the way and all of them were making eyes at Xiang Shaolong. All these ladies were specially chosen, so naturally they’re all beauties.

They reached an especially magnificent palace building and after the guard passed him over to 2 servants, he left.

One of the servants instructed him to remove his sword and any other weapons before leading him into the hall.

He’d just stepped into the hall but Xiang Shaolong knows that something is wrong.

On both sides there were 10 strong, stout men standing. On a raised platform at the end of the hall, a lady with her hair piled high up, wearing a colorful and elegant robe was lounging on a chair covered with soft cushions, looking at him icily.

Sitting next to her was the young prince whose butt he just kicked this morning, and behind them sat 7 to 8 beauties who looked like concubines, and behind these ladies were 10 odd pretty ladies-in-waiting, but all of them looked unfriendly.

Looking at such a layout, naturally he knows what is happening. He hurriedly knelt down and kowtowed, “Imperial Protector Xiang Shaolong pays his respect to your Majesty.”

Empress Zhao does not look older than 30, and looked regal and imposing, with a high nose bridge, showing that she’s a person of steely character with a mind of her own.

Naturally she’s not as beautiful as Lady Ya, Lady Ni or Third Princess, but her posture while on the dais, especially her thick lips, looks very sexy.

With one look, Xiang Shaolong can hazard a guess about her character.

This kind of woman loves men who are stronger than her.

The young prince pointed at him and said with hatred, “Imperial Mother! He’s the one who kicked me.”

Empress Zhao’s eyes turned icy and she lightly reprimanded, “You dare to offend even the prince, Xiang Shaolong do you know this is a death penalty.”

Xiang Shaolong replied without fear, “I now know my mistake, but at that time I did not know that Young Prince were among the 10 odd people surrounding and attacking me. I was only under Lady Ni’s orders to teach Master Pan well, and also to defend myself, so I made such a mistake. Would your Majesty please look into this further.”

Obviously Empress Zhao has no idea what the whole thing was about and after staring at the Young Prince, she added coldly, “What actually happened? Tell me clearly from the beginning.”

Therefore Xiang Shaolong truthfully related what happened right from the start, his voice full of confidence and persuasion, making Empress Zhao and all the concubines secretly discount what was originally told to them. When he spoke about how he taught Master Pan a lesson, he revealed a warm smile.

The Young Prince saw that the situation is amiss so he tugged Empress Zhao’s sleeve and said, “Imperial Mother must help your son.”

Empress Zhao furrowed her brows and asked, “What do you want?”

The Young Price went to her ear and whispered a few words.

Empress Zhao nodded her head slightly and raised her voice, “Stand up.”

Xiang Shaolong stood to his full height proudly, and for a moment he looked even vetter than the 20 stout looking men, making the eyes of the Empress and the concubines all light up.

It’s the first time they have seen a person of such capabilities.

Empress Zhao said gently to the Young Prince, “Imperial Mother can accede to your request, and let them give Xiang Shaolong a beating so that your anger can be appeased. But if they were to lose to him instead, you will have to be like Little Pan and follow Xiang Shaolong and learn martial arts and bearing from him, will you agree?”

She saw for herself how he defeated Lian Jin the other day and knows that he is highly skilled, and now that she knows he’s a good disciplinarian, she was overjoyed and thus made this request.

The Young Prince asked happily, “Will they all strike at the same time?”

Empress Zhao furrowed her brows, “How can it be that unfair, isn’t it enough for you to pick 3 of them out?”

The Young Prince was wary after the beating by Xiang Shaolong and he shook his head, “No! Not enough.”

There was an uproar among the 20 stout men, all revealing looks of unhappiness and spoiling for a fight.

Xiang Shaolong bowed and said, “Since your Majesty has agreed to Young Prince’s request, Shaolong is willing to give a try.”

Everyone in the hall gasped.

Xiang Shaolong was secretly laughing to himself, when it comes to freestyle fighting, he’s not afraid no matter how many people there are. These men are naturally considered strongmen in this era, but they’re a long way off if compared to Black Faced Deity.

The Young Prince exclaimed happily, “That’s settled then, fight immediately.” And secretly thought to himself that he’ll surely be dead this time.

Xiang Shaolong removed his outer robe, revealing his wonderful physique, making the Empress and the ladies’ hearts all beat faster and their eyes mesmerized.

The 20 men were furious at being belittled and they all shouted in unison as they removed their tops, revealing their exquisite upper bodies and came forward to surround Xiang Shaolong.

Xiang Shaolong have not had a good fight for a long time and is now in the mood for it. He followed them and removed his top as well, revealing his strong and chiseled body, and muscles with not an ounce of fat surrounding his broad chest and arms. The most impressive part is his six pack on his tummy.

Empress Zhao has always been ignored by the King and her heart was aflame on seeing this, and was speechless for a moment.

The Young Prince shouted, “Strike!”

4 men immediately pounced towards Xiang Shaolong, with 2 going to hug him from behind and the other 2 waving their fists to attack his temple and chest, and it seems that they are not pulling their punches at all.

The ladies all screamed in unison.

Xiang Shaolong suddenly retreated, his left and right elbows knocking into the 2 men coming up behind him.

The 2 men groaned and knelt down on the ground.

Xiang Shaolong pressed down on their shoulders and used the motion to propel himself into the air, his legs kicking out and striking the 2 men who were attacking from the front right in the face.

With blood flowing down their noses, the 2 men covered their faces and fell backwards.

In one instant he has dealt with 4 men.

The Young Price was extremely nervous and kept cheering for the others.

When Xiang Shaolong landed on the ground again, he rolled forward and his legs kicked up diagonally. The other 2 men has never seen such unorthodox way of fighting and they were immediately kicked on their stomachs and sent flying off, unable to get up.

When he jumped up, a man attacked him with both his fists but he forcefully pushed the fists aside and took the opportunity to give 2 punches to the man’s chest. He turned around with a kick and the kick landed on another man’s chest, sending the 2 of them flying off at the same time.

His fighting style is a combination of Thai boxing, karate, western boxing and Korea’s judo, mixed with Chinese martial arts, the moves welded after serious analyzing and it’s not something that the martial arts of this era can fight against. It uses very little strength to defeat almost half of his opponents and those who were stuck will lose their ability to fight.

The other men were startled and retreated.

The Young Prince was dumbfounded, looking at Xiang Shaolong who seems to be as mighty as a deity unbelievably.

Empress Zhao could not take it any longer and shouted, “Stop!”

The men all heaved a sigh of relief and helped the injured retreat.

Xiang Shaolong knelt down and said, “Would your Majesty please forgive me, Xiang Shaolong has been merciful in the fight, they’ll be fine after a short rest.”

The Young Prince was unhappy and pouted, “Imperial Mother!”

Empress Zhao stared at him at said, “It is your father and your good fortune that Great Zhao has such a marvelous warrior, what else do you want?”

The Young Price was cowered by Xiang Shaolong’s air and for a moment was unable to speak. After a moment he stamped his feet and ran out of the hall.

Empress Zhao turned back towards Xiang Shaolong and her eyes gentle, said, “Imperial Protector please rise.”

Xiang Shaolong sttod up and bowed, saying, “If your Majesty does not have any other instructions, I will take my leave.”

After Empress Zhao waved the rest of the men away, she stood up and walked down the dais and said apologetically, “Imperial Protector’s clothes are all dirty!” And shouted, “Men, bring Imperial Protector to the back palace for a bath and change.”

Xiang Shaolong was startled and thought that the situation is terrible, what difference is this from sending a goat to a tiger’s den? Before the concubines and ladies in waiting have a chance to reach him, he swiftly scooped up his clothes and signaled the ladies to stop, and begged the Zhao Empress, “I will be going to the state of Wei the day after, now we’re in a hurry to prepare for the trip, would your Majesty please forgive me.”

The more the Empress sees him, the more she is taken with him, but on seeing him so determined, she did not want to stop him, thinking to herself that in future there will be the excuse to ask him to teach the Prince martial arts, so there’ll be opportunities to see him. She smiled and said, “At least let them help you dress!”

The ladies in waiting all swarmed forward and were busy helping him dress while giggling, and of course they took the opportunity to touch him to their heart’s content.

The Empress and the concubines were all looking from the side with adoration in their expressions. However, Xiang Shaolong was worried, what if the King of Zhao were to find out about this, what would his reaction be?

He can’t help but secretly lament.

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