# 106. Recommendation The Yuanjing Emperor awoke abruptly from his dreams. The vast, expansive palace hall was definingly silent. The eunuch that accompanied him was slumped over his small table, sound asleep. He had no concubines in his bed, nor any maids in his room. For over twenty years Emperor Yuanjing had cut himself off from worldly desires, and cultivated Dao, thus the great bedroom of the emperor had become a forbidden place to all the palace’s concubines. As to the Yuanjing Emperor’s cultivation, the concubines’ feelings could only be described by one sentence: A scholar staying by the candlelight studying hard — pulling an all nighter! (The Abalone’s dry!)[^1] Naturally, this was said with a complaining tone, but the Yuanjing Emperor never ever cared what his concubines thought. As an emperor with many children, concubines had long since been unnecessary. If he had started cultivating twenty years earlier, his ministers and servants would have risked their life to admonish them. “Has Your Majesty woken up?” The great eunuch had a shallow sleep, and immediately woke up, coming to the dragon bed with some panic. “What time is it?” Emperor Yuanjing rubbed his temples. “4:15 in the morning.” As the eunuch spoke, he turned to the teapot on a small stove nearby, and poured Emperor Yuanjing some warm water. Having served the emperor for so many years, certain things he didn’t even need to ask. Emperor Yuanjing drank the water, and slowly let out a deep breath, “After the ancestor worship, we have felt ill at ease. Arrange a palanquin to the Lingbao Temple, we wish to cultivate with the national teacher to calm our heart.”[^2] Master and servant walked out of the bedchamber, and suddenly heard a clear bell’s ring break the night’s silence, echoing into every single corner of the palace city. The imperial palace entered battle-readiness. Emperor Yuanjing frowned, and saw a squad of royal guards running over at full speed, their expressions terrified. The leading guard shouted, “Your Majesty! There was an explosion at Sangpo Lake, Yongzhen Shanhe Temple has been destroyed! The three hundred soldiers on guard have all lost their lives, there were no survivors.” Emperor Yuanjing froze in place. A long time later, he said solemnly, “Notify Wei Yuan, to immediately bring men into the palace. Notify the national teacher, to see us. Notify the Jianzheng… say the temple has been destoryed.” … That night, the Sitianjian Arcanists all suddenly awoke for no particular reason, frightened as if the end days had come. … The first to arrive was the female national teacher. She stood on a seven-star sword[^3], soaring through the air. A lotus crown on her head, wearing a yin-yang daoist robe, her wide sleeves fluttering in the wind, the aura of a celestial being came like a tide. One couldn’t tell how old she was, but her appearance was incredibly beautiful, her stature beyond ordinary. She simultaneously had the tenderness of a young girl, as well as the charm of a mature woman, having both mortal and immortal grace. It was as if her beauty was a myriad mountains, a myriad plains away; it could be seen, but never reached. “National teacher…” Emperor Yuanjing opened his mouth, before sighing, “The thing underneath Sangpo Lake has gotten out.” The female national teacher nodded slightly, her voice indistinct yet crisp, “This poor Daoist already knows.” Wei Yuan arrived next, bringing the two gold gongs on shift at the constabulary, as well as his two adoptive sons, four high-rank martial artists in total. Combined with the palace’s own masters, the group of martial artists, together already frighteningly strong, along with the sect leader of the Human Sect, surrounded Emperor Yuanjing as they rushed to Sangpo Lake. Over a thousand royal soldiers were congregated beside Sangpo Lake, holding torches. The high-ranked martial artists within the contingent were gathered together, waiting for Emperor Yuanjing. Yongzhen Shanhe Temple no longer existed. The tall platform was half ruined, and on the water’s surface floated broken wooden beams. Seeing this scene, Emperor Yuanjing’s brow twitched violently, as he shouted, “Where’s the divine sword?” One guard clasped his fists, “We’ve already sent people to retrieve it.” Emperor Yuanjing drew in a deep breath, and walked to the shore. He stretched out his hand, fingers curling. Within the water flashed a ray of bright yellow light, as a three foot long brass sword flew out of the water, landing in Emperor Yuanjing’s hand. After examining it closely, and confirming that the divine sword was undamaged, Emperor Yuanjing let out a sigh of relief. The national teacher on her seven-star sword, holding a *fuchen* in her hands, flew around Sangpo Lake, and pausing in midair, said “Your Majesty, there’s nothing unusual with Sangpo Lake.” *Nothing unusual…* Emperor Yuanjing’s gaze darkened slightly. Wei Yuan turned, and asked the general of the royal guard, “Where are the corpses of the dead?” A dozen or more corpses were brought over to him. They all died in the exact same manner, their bodies deflated and dry, as if they had been exposed to the elements for decades. “All the other soldiers died in the same way,” A general responded, carefully glancing at the Yuanjing Emperor, “Your Majesty… your servant did not notice any strong enemy entering…” The general knew very clearly, that the reason for this sudden change probably had something to do with the incident at the ancestor worship ceremony. Though the generals had their guesses, they were still subjects, and knew what should be said, and what shouldn’t. Emperor Yuanjing’s sharp gaze swept over the corpses. Tilting his head, he looked over at Wei Yuan: “Wei Yuan, come with us to the Imperial Study.” … Brocade drapes hung low, and rosewood incense burned in the bedchamber. The eldest princess was suddenly awoken by the sound of the bell. In the instant she opened her eyes, she did not go to get dressed, rather pulling out the long sword that was hung above her headboard, and hardly after the metallic sching had faded, she in her white nightdress had already rushed into the front hall. The tall, cold beauty, holding a long sword flashing with cold light, her hair like a waterfall cascading down, with a somewhat casual messiness. The white body-hugging nightdress framed an extremely stunning body, one not of those weak and frail women, rather the type that gave off the energy of regular gym training. If Xu Qi’an were here, he would sigh and exclaim: That woman is for me. “Your Highness…” The maid in the side hall also awoke, and ran over in a flurry, grabbing the eldest princess’s royal dress. “Change it for the agile wear.” An aura of authority swirled around the eldest princess. After she had changed into more practical, more agile wear, with a crossbow at her left waist, a hand-cannon at her right, the longsword in her hand, the eldest princess led her guards, and with fiery speed ran towards the Yuanjing Emperor’s residence. The eldest princess was stopped by the guards who surrounded the emperor’s residence. At times like these, princes and princesses were not allowed to go near the Emperor. Who know if it was the scheming of some prince. The eldest princess did not try to force her way through. Her gaze went past the soldiers, and landed on a familiar figure, the Nightwatchers, and the high-ranked martial artists in the royal guard. *What’s happened… the soldiers would not have sounded the alarm unless a strong enemy had come… but if it was a master from an enemy country, this situation seems far too peaceful. Furthermore, no one from the Sitianjian has come…* The eldest princess grasped her sword, thinking over the matter. At this time, the Crown Prince of the Eastern Palace, and the other princes and princesses all arrived with their contingents. “Huaiqing!” The crown prince was in full military gear, his expression solemn. “The situation is as yet unknown.” The eldest princess succinctly responded. The almond-eyed, stunningly charming second princess saw that the eldest princess was in her agile clothes, her expression less cold, and more fierce, as if at the drop of a hat she would strike at someone. The second princess opened her small cherry mouth, but ultimately decided to stay silent. A big incident had happened today, and so she didn’t bother arguing with Huaiqing. Fifteen minutes later, the Imperial Study door opened, and the azure-cloaked eunuch walked out. “Duke Wei…” the eldest princess had the closest relationship with Wei Yuan; she could almost be said to be half a disciple. Wei Yuan sighed, “Yongzhen Shanhe Temple has collapsed. This was the work of a criminal, but he has long gone.” The princess and princesses let out exclamations of shock. The Eastern Palace Crown Prince squinted, suppressing his inner feelings. Stepping forward, he asked, “Does this have anything to do with the incident at the ancestor worship ceremony?” He shook his head, “His Majesty has ordered me to discover everything behind this case in half a month, and capture the perpetrator. I have honestly told His Majesty, this case is not an easy one…” Saying so, he left. The eldest princess’s eyes flashed. The Imperial Study’s doors opened again, and the great eunuch, wearing a black silk cap, with a tan four-clawed dragon robe, walked out. “Your Highnesses, His Majesty invites you in.” With the crown prince at their head, the eight princes and princesses that had come to see what was going on all entered the Imperial Study. The Emperor’s desk was placed in the front hall, with no one beside it. The great eunuch lead them to the inner hall, to see drapes hanging low, and the Yuanjing Emperor sat cross legged on a putuan cushion. Sat opposite him was the graceful and beautiful female national teacher. The distance between the two of them was not far nor near, keeping a distance suitable for Daoist friends to talk about the Dao. Over these years, Emperor Yuanjing had followed this female national teacher in his cultivation, to great results. Originally Emperor Yuanjing was bogged down by government and responsibility, and his hair greyed early. At not much past thirty, his temples were already white. As he cultivated with this Human Sect leader thought, over twenty years his hair had turned a glossy black, his health and vigour had all started improving. The crown prince would love to secretly stick a pin in a voodoo doll and curse him. As for the other princes’ views of this female Daoist, they were half full of admiration and longing, and half full of fear and loathing. “National Teacher, our heart is still not calm.” Emperor Yuanjing broke his cross-legged stance, opening his eyes, and sighing. “Your Majesty has emotional trouble, and must take the corresponding treatment.” The female national teacher spoke, her voice carrying the warmth and grace of a mature woman. “We indeed have emotional trouble…” Emperor Yuanjing stared intently at the beautiful features of the Daoist priest, laughing “We have always been waiting to practice dual cultivation with the national teacher.”[^4] Hearing this, the expressions of the princes and princesses became strange. Only the eldest princess did not show any hint of emotion; her thoughts were very deep. Ten years ago, the Yuanjing Emperor had asked to practice dual cultivation with the national teacher. She did not agree, so Yuanjing set out an imperial edict, wanting to grant her the title of “Celestial Consort”. The National Teacher still didn’t agree, but the Yuanjing Emperor still required her to lead him in his cultivation, and so he gave up. Outsiders thought the Yuanjing Emperor only wanted to go after her good looks, or that this was one of the reasons, even if it was not the main one. The princes and princesses however knew most of all that their father wanted this for himself. In his back palace, there were three thousand great beauties, what kind of woman could he not get? That king consort praised as the capital’s greatest beauty, was once someone also in the palace. But at the time, the Yuanjing Emperor, who had cut off mortal desires for cultivation, did not lay a single finger on her. What their father wanted was eternal life. Though not receiving a satisfactory answer, Emperor Yuanjing did not seem to mind. He pushed open the drapes, and led the group of his children into the front hall. Sitting at the high seat by the table, he said “There’s no need to worry, the incident is over.” The crown prince, as the eldest child, the leader of the other princes and princesses, cupped his hands, “Father, did this have anything to do with the incident at the ancestor worship ceremony?” Emperor Yuanjing’s brow furrowed; he did not want to explain. The Crown Prince secretly gave the second princess a look. Wearing a beautiful and resplendent dress, with a charming and graceful look, Princess Lin’an laughed, taking a cup of tea from the great eunuch. With her waist swaying she came to Emperor Yuanjing’s side, and coquettishly said: “Father, Sangpo Lake is our royal family’s forbidden area, which scoundrel could sneak into Sangpo lake, and destroy the founding emperor’s temple? Could he also sneak into Lin’an’s manor?” She made a brow furrowed, extremely scared and pitiable face. The second princess was doted on most by their father, because she knew how to act coquettishly, and knew how to tug at Emperor Yuanjing’s heartstrings. Emperor Yuanjing was a mighty, controlling type. He did not necessarily like the extremely talented and domineering eldest princess, but he loved dearly his soft and vulnerable second princess, who relied on him, who could act kittenish. The black haired emperor in the prime of his life, patted the second princess on the head, and comforted, “Nonsense, this is the forbidden palace, which scoundrel could come and go as they please?” The crown prince made the opener, the second princess played support, and now the eldest princess stepped forward, bowing, “Earlier your daughter met Duke Wei at the door, in his words he expressed to me his difficulty, probably hoping that your daughter can help him secure a few extra days for his investigation.” Hearing this, Emperor Yuanjing snorted. The eldest princess continued, “Father, your daughter just so happens to know a master at solving cases. If he could join the case, within half a month, the rocks will appear above the water, and all will be clear.” --- [^1]: Doesn’t really work in english, but the two phrases are homonyms in Chinese. [^2]: I will be using the Royal We [^3]: A sword inlaid with seven bronze rivets ([see image](https://pic2.zhimg.com/80/v2-725117273b72f28c159d0d1377ebf565_1440w.webp)) [^4]: “Dual cultivation” is the literal (and I guess, euphemistic) translation for something that quite plainly is known as “Sexual Yoga” or “Daoist Sexual Practices”.