# 98. A Secret That Cannot be Known
The Yuanjing Emperor was the first to bear this tide of qi, kneeling down in the midst of its ferocious storm. The tall platform shook heavily, and the spirit tablets of his ancestors trembled and fell.
Sacrificial items and ceremonial vessels shattered onto the ground, flying shards of porcelain streaming outwards in all directions, some hitting Yuanjing.
The scene immediately became chaotic. The surrounding soldiers quickly left their posts, rushing towards Sangpo Lake.
The Nightwatchers on guard by the lake sprinted towards the crowd, to protect the royal family, and all the military and civil officials at the scene.
“An assassin, protect His Majesty!”
“Protect the empress, protect the princesses…”
“Protect the Prime Minister…”
People’s shadows flashed around, as in that instant ten Nightwatcher gold gongs, masters in the King’s guard, and others around took flight, as at least several dozen high-ranked martial artists flew through the sky towards the high platform, surrounding the Yuanjing Emperor in an impenetrable defence.
The uproar only continued for a dozen or so breaths, because that sword qi that pierced the clouds only stayed for that long, before dissipating. The waters of the lake returned to their tranquil state.
There were no assassins, and as the winds calmed, everywhere was very stable and under control, and there was no sign of injury, death, or suspicious persons.
Wei Yuan, the man in charge of security at the ceremony, walked up to the platform with wide steps, bowing deeply:
“Your lowly servant has failed at his job, your lowly servant deserves death.”
At this time, the Yuanjing Emperor had calmed down, but through this event, that faint daoist immortal aura on his face had completely disappeared.
He was no longer the Daoist who had cultivated for over twenty years, but rather the controller of absolute power, the stern and mighty emperor.
The Yuanjing Emperor said solemnly, “Everyone shall leave the sacrificial altar. No one shall approach.”
Everyone, including Wei Yuan, including all the high-rank martial artists, obeyed his command.
The Yuanjing Emperor adjusted his clothes and crown, brushing off the dust that had fallen on it, and entered the temple with a serious and stern face.
By the willow tree, Xu Qi’an had bellowed out his lungs, and after that had not heard again that mysterious and unsettling voice again. As time passed, his mind and spirit became steady again. His head still twitched with pain, but no longer as hard to bear as before.
Only now did he have the energy to look at his surroundings.
The colleagues beside him had left long ago, to protect the numerous officials and the royal family at the shore,
The platform was empty, but the twisted long corridor was full of high-ranked martial artists, with Wei Yuan at their head.
The Yuanjing Emperor was nowhere to be found.
The thing that made Xu Qi’an most surprised was, that the temple that was said to house that divine sword, had its roof split along the rafters, leaving a gaping hole.
*There was a problem with the ceremony? Did the secret in Sangpo lake appear again in front of everyone?*
Thoughts quickly few by in Xu Qi’an’s mind. He simultaneously put a hand to his throbbing head, and headed towards the crowd.
Because he was a Nightwatcher, no one stopped him.
“What happened to you?” Song Tingfeng looked at his new colleague, “How’re you doing?”
Song Tingfeng did not connect Sangpo Lake’s sudden change to Xu Qi’an’s unusual behaviour.
Just like how you wouldn’t link together a weak chicken’s call and a Richter scale 10 earthquake.
“I’ve been too overzealous in my training these past few days, and suffered a backlash.” Xu Qi’an found a reasonable excuse, “At least I’ve gotten over it. Oh right, what happened just then?”
“I don’t know.” Song Tingfeng shook his head, looking around with a cautious attitude, before saying in a low voice,
“Yongzhen Shanhe Temple suddenly exploded. From the temple came out a sword qi, that made the whole lake stir up like it was boiling, like an earthquake. But looking at the current situation, it doesn’t seem to be an assassin.”
Xu Qi’an’s gaze drifted towards the tall platform. *The temple’s roof was pierced by a sword qi? If the divine sword has that power, then the person that was just calling to me for help would definitely not be the sword-spirit, or similar.*
He dropped his gaze a while, gathering in his emotions, and calming all his thoughts. He then hurriedly made his way to beside the eldest princess, cupping his hands,
“Is the eldest princess unharmed?”
The scene had returned to order, and even though there were whispers and conversation, everyone had largely become very quiet, waiting for the Yuanjing Emperor to come out.
So Xu Qi’an’s voice drew the heads of many nearby. Some were his fellow Nightwatchers, some were the Royal Guard, some were eunuchs, and of course the eldest princes, and her relatives.
The eldest princess’s face was very beautiful, but her expression was as clear and cold as the morning frost. She tilted her head, her eyes like autumn pools reflecting Xu Qi’an’s form. With a clear, crisp voice like jade rocks colliding, she said,
Xu Qi’an felt a great weight lifted off him, “Then your lowly servant can stop worrying.”
Seeing that all was good, he immediately retreated, keeping watch all around with impeccable precision.
“Huaiqing, this small bronze gong seems to really look up to you.” A soft voice came from behind her, belong to the second princess.
Huaiqing[^1] was the eldest princess’s noble title, but she preferred others to call her as eldest princess.
The Yuanjing Emperor had once commented that this eldest daughter of his, has an ambition no less than any man, and was no less domineering than he himself.
The second princess’s appearance was exceptional, a pair of pear-blossom eyes on her round and smooth face, her red lips were vibrant, and with every twinkle and smile she gave off an incredibly charming aura.
She was a beauty polar opposite to the eldest princess. From a young time, the relationship between the two sisters was never good.
The eldest princess said lightly, “Admiration, perhaps not so much. He knows how to repay kindness, is all.”
Xu Qi’an’s behaviour in the Sitianjian, along with his earlier expression, successfully gave that impression to the eldest princess.
The second princess covered her mouth, laughing lightly, “Everyone in the capital knows of Sister Huaiqing’s attractiveness; the students at the Cloud Deer Academy are enthralled by you, other scholars no less so, how could the Nightwatcher not?”
The other princes and princesses onlooked the scene with great excitement, not commenting on the sharp needles hidden within their soft words.
The crown prince of the eastern palace frowned, and scolded, “Quiet.”
Lin’an[^2] was the noble title of the second princess. Facing her elder brother’s scolding, she pouted her lips, and gracefully lowered her head, standing in a refined and elegant pose.
All of the royal family knew that the two princesses were like fire and water.
The eldest princess was born to the Empress, the second princess however was born to Concubine Chen; their positions had some difference. However, Concubine Chen was doted on much more than the Empress.
When she was young, the second princess liked to provoke the eldest princess, constantly trying to find ways to get at her.
This was no more than the average teasing between two members of a family, but the eldest princess just so happened to be the domineering, independent type. She ordered her attendants to hold the second princess, and when the attendants did not dare to, she took initiative herself, grabbing a bamboo scroll, and chased her around, beating her with it.
From south to north, from north back down south again.
The maids and attendants in the palace did not dare stop her, and eventually the commotion disturbed the Yuanjing Emperor in his cultivation.
Concubine Chen, along with her face-swollen, beaten black and blue young daughter, complained about the eldest princess. The Yuanjing Emperor planned to heavily punish the eldest princess, and summoned her to his imperial study.
The eldest princess was long prepared, bringing along over a dozen books, including *The Book of Rites, The Great Encyclopaedia, The Book of Music*. She spread them out one by one in the study, and quoting from the sages in the book, made a resounding rebuttal.
Eventually she won the appeal, and the Yuanjing Emperor could not but gloomily rule that the eldest princess had no fault, before returning to cultivation.
When she became of age, the eldest princess became a lot more reserved.
Yongzhen Shanhe Temple.
A stern, crown wearing man in gold stood, holding a brass sword. The temple door was shut tight. Yuanjing stood in front of the statue of the founding emperor, silently examining the dusty brass sword.
“What is a first rank really? You were meant to have a long, boundless life, yet you still were burdened by the fate of the people, and barely lived longer than an average person.” Yuanjing seemed to be talking to himself, but simultaneously seemed to be talking to his ancestor six hundred years ago.
“I came to the throne at the age of twenty, after defeating all my enemies. When I sat on this seat, none could stand shoulder-to-shoulder with me. But eventually I found, that the biggest enemy of all is time.”
The Yuanjing Emperor slowly shifted his gaze, staring at the floor by his feet, staring for a long time. Afterwards, he started inspecting the various furnishings in the temple, even stepping onto the altar, very disrespectfully touching his ancestor’s statue, touching that brass sword.
This process was long and meticulous, as finally, the Yuanjing Emperor let out a sigh of relief.
His expression became calm, and he knelt on the *putuan* cushion[^3], kowtowing towards that founding emperor, before leaving the temple.
The Yuanjing Emperor stood on the high platform, overlooking the many martial and civil officials, overlooking the royal family, his voice emanating like a clear bell, “The ancestor worship ceremony shall continue.”
He did not explain the reason behind the earlier disturbance.
The five armies and the Nightwatchers scattered out again, returning back to their posts in an orderly way, patrolling the perimeter.
Lines of eunuchs walked quickly with lowered heads, clearing the platform from pottery shards, sorting out the ceremonial vessels, and the ancestral spirit tablets.
Xu Qi’an returned back to his earlier post, muttering in his heart, *that’s strange. Logically, if a ceremony would encounter something like this, it would be a sign of big breasts- pff, sign of big calamity.[^4] The Yuanjing Emperor should really be angry.*
*But he seemed to have anticipated this, not berating Duke Wei or the royal guard captain… mm, he may not necessarily have anticipated it, rather knew the real reason behind the disturbance.*
*Furthermore, this reason is something that cannot be announced publicly.*
*So Sangpo Lake really has a secret that cannot be known.*
[^3]: Putuan, or Zafu, is a round cushion used in meditation
[^4]: “Breast” and “Ill Omen” are also homonyms.