A face that portrayed the dignity, and majestic look of a dragon.
The middle-aged man in golden robes didn't even need to speak for others to understand that he was an authoritative figure.
Before them, stood The Emperor, Zhu Taewon.
‘Uh, why is His Majesty here? Ah! Are they all coming?’
Crown Prince Zhu Taiyoon, whose eyes had fallen onto the people standing behind the Emperor, soon fell into an abyss of total despair and utter fear.
The one who was dressed in a polished red robe and splendid ornaments, was Admiral Yuk Cheong-un of the West Spear, standing in front of his two attendants.
He was the man in charge of auditing within the Imperial Palace.
To the right of Admiral Yuk Cheong-un, stood three eunuchs in navy blue uniforms.
It was the Cardinal Spear Admiral, Seo Tae-sik, and his two attendants.
The Imperial palace’s top two eunuchs, who wielded undisputed power, had appeared alongside the Emperor.
Standing on the right side of the Emperor, wearing a formal second-class robe, was a handsome middle-aged man, the first head of the Guards and the Supreme Commander, Baek Jagi.
Next to him, stood a person who radiated a unique energy, the Northern Commander, Yeong-jo.
All the leaders of the Imperial Palace’s martial artists had gathered in the underground shrine.
‘The Emperor is here too. This is troublesome.’
Despite the Emperor’s entry, Chun Yeowun looked mysteriously calm.
It wasn’t a surprise to him as he'd already sensed their energy when they entered the royal shrine.
He was only concerned about 2 things.
Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Thud!
Zhu Taiyoon, who was in absolute shock and disbelief, immediately ran over to the Emperor and fell to his knees.
His two broken arms, his elbow that was sticking out, and the bleeding from his nose, drew the picture of the merciless torture and the painful suffering he had gone through.
“Your Majesty! Please save me. The prince plotted to kill me, Admiral Lim lost his life and I was hit and injured! ”
Prince Zhu Taikhan couldn’t hold back the gasp as he heard the Crown prince’s words and noticed his sudden change of attitude.
He'd always known that the Crown prince behaved differently in front of the Emperor, and as expected, the crown prince hadn’t deviated much from his nature.
However, the eyes of the Emperor, who would normally listen attentively to his eldest son, were cold.
Such icy coldness flustered Zhu Taiyoon.
As he was the eldest son and the only son of the deceased Empress, the Emperor always treated him with warmth and affection.
However, at that moment, the Emperor’s eyes were full of disappointment and distrust.
“No! It isn’t true! Your Majesty! No. Father! This is all…”
“Can’t you just shut your mouth!”
Zhu Taiyoon had been desperately trying to persuade the Emperor, but his expression stiffened at that moment.
As The Emperor yelled at him, Zhu Taiyoon’s mind went blank.
“Do you think that I, the Emperor, lack ears and eyes? I have always given you second chances when you made mistakes, but this time you crossed the line.”
“Ugh, this isn’t…”
“Huh! Did you think that I wouldn’t know what you and your partners were up to?”
The Emperor’s sharp words cut so deeply in Zhu Taiyoon’s heart that his words got stuck in his throat.
Although he'd managed to gain the support of many officials, including Admiral Lim, making them his sworn allies, the power in the Imperial palace always revolved around the Emperor.
This meant that there was no corner within the imperial palace where the Emperor’s eyes and ears were absent.
“No, it is a misunderstanding! Admiral Lim and I discovered that the 2nd prince had teamed up with the Demonic Cult to steal the treasure of His Majesty, the Emperor!”
The Emperor’s disappointment deepened at Zhu Taiyoon’s words, as he desperately insisted on his innocence.
The Emperor summoned Seo Tae-sik, the Admiral of the Cardinal Spear, who was standing behind him.
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
Upon hearing the Emperor’s command, Admiral Seo Tae-sik looked at the officials in the room and shouted.
“The inspection duty has been successfully executed at the command of His Majesty.”
Zhu Taiyoon didn’t understand what was being said, especially the inspection they were talking about.
But he soon found out.
Among the East Spear eunuchs who were laying flat on the floor and bowing their heads, five eunuchs got up and approached the emperor who was near the entrance.
‘What? Who are they?’
The eunuchs who approached the emperor quickly knelt onto one knee.
The one in the lead shouted.
“The group leader of Cardinal Spear, Shim Hyung, has finished the inspection duty and greets His Majesty!”
Zhu Taiyoon’s face hardened.
Shockingly, all five eunuchs were Cardinal Spear members.
‘Why were they in here?’
Zhu Taiyoon was too shocked to understand.
He'd never expected something like this to happen, he'd thought that they were East Spear eunuchs who'd been working along with him.
Even the group leader of the East Spear, the eunuch who had been promised the deputy Admiral post, was perplexed.
‘Damn it! We did our best to find the spies, and they were right next to us the entire time!’
The so-called East Spear didn’t even know that it still had spies of West Spear and Cardinal Spear within it.
To prevent the three eunuchs’ organizations from growing addicted to power and to keep everyone in check, each one had its own spies within the two other organisations.
However, the East Spear had thought that they'd removed all the spies, thus it was totally unexpected to see 5 spies suddenly pop out.
Well, identifying a spy was the toughest task when an organization was made up of numerous people.
“We have received the order.”
The leader of the group, who had completed the inspection at the order of his Admiral Seo Tae-sik, told everything he knew about Zhu Taiyoon’s and Admiral Lim’s scheme.
“It was about half a year ago when I began my duties as an East Spear guard. Three months ago, we noticed that the Crown prince would frequently visit the East House, the headquarters of the East Spear. And…”
Since he wasn’t a high-ranked member, he wasn’t able to gather full details on what happened, but he'd realized that Zhu Taiyoon had joined hands with the members of the Blade God Six Martial clan.
The mouths of the Cardinal Spear attendants went wide whilst Zhu Taiyoon's face turned as white as a ghost's.
After the entire report was given, the Emperor spoke in a cold voice.
“Did you just attack the Royal Shrine and annihilate the Guardians, just to ascend the throne?”
“I am extremely disappointed. It is my fault that you turned out like this. You should have been raised strictly just like the other princes.”
Rather than blaming the culprit, the emperor blamed himself for not disciplining his son.
Zhu Taiyoon, who was already drowning in deep despair, blanked out as the world turned pitch black in his eyes.
Knowing the stubborn nature of the Emperor, it was meaningless to make excuses, especially since the report had already been given.
“Supreme Commander. Arrest them immediately and take everyone into custody.”
At the Emperor’s orders, a smile of satisfaction appeared on the Supreme Commander’s face.
He had felt humiliated when the East Spear had tried to arrest the guards, but since the situation had been reversed, he couldn’t hide his smile.
The world is truly unpredictable.
“Receive the orders from Your Majesty. Northern Commander!”
“Fulfil Your Majesty’s orders!”
When the Guards Supreme Commander called for Yeongjo, the Northern Commander, he moved right away as if waiting for the orders to fall.
At the same time, armor-clad Guards began appearing and lining up in the underground hall.
The number of Guards who kept pouring in was hard to count.
‘Ah! What? So many?’
Zhu Taikhan’s eyes shone.
As the line of Guards kept on pouring in like water, the entire hall seemed to be filled with them.
The number of Guards had already reached two hundred.
The Northern Commander then loudly ordered them
“Arrest all the eunuchs of the East Spear!”
Anger and Excitement appeared on the Guards’ faces since they had been waiting for this very day.
A golden opportunity to pay back the eunuchs for all the ill-treatment they'd dished out to them.
Admiral Lim was already dead, and the Emperor himself had appeared to send their souls to hell, the eunuchs had already realized that East Spear was going to become a forgotten history.
The only thing left for them to do was get dragged around by ropes.
The emperor didn’t stop there, and with a voice still full of rage and fury, he pointed to Zhu Taiyoon and gave another order.
“Take him as well, and lock him up in his palace”
At the Emperor’s command, the Guards approached Zhu Taiyoon who was miserably kneeling on the floor.
“Forgive our rudeness. Your Highness.”
Since he was from the Imperial family, the Guards couldn’t tie him up with rope, so they lifted him up by his broken arms.
Zhu Taiyoon, who was being dragged out, shouted with all his might, realizing that it was his last chance.
“Father! You can’t do this! That filthy bastard Zhu Taikhan colluded with Yulin members and with the Demonic Cult too! He killed the East Spear Admiral and made me like this! Why are you treating me like this!”
He cried and shouted, but the emperor didn’t even look at him.
The disappointment his son made him feel had reached its peak.
“Father! Father! PLEASEE!!!”
Zhu Taiyoon’s happy dream of getting everything he wanted, had in a very short space of time, turned into a hellish nightmare.
It was even more shocking, that even after being dragged out, his father, the Emperor, wasn't responding to him.
‘Your Majesty took a step ahead, so the plot of the Crown Prince has ended in failure’
A cold-hearted Emperor, who didn’t let injustice happen, even when committed by his beloved son.
When the crown prince’s voice could no longer be heard in the underground hall, the Emperor moved in steady steps from the entrance to the middle of the hall.
“Now that my beloved son’s business has been taken care of, I need to take care of the other matters.”
Following the Emperor, the two Admirals, their attendants, the Supreme Commander and the Northern Commander moved, but that wasn’t the end. Eunuchs of the West Spear and Cardinal Spear rushed in and formed two lines, encircling the outer perimeter of the hall.
‘He brought everyone?’
Zhu Taikhan couldn’t hide his shock.
He'd thought that everything had been resolved, but that didn’t seem to be the case.
There were around 400 people within the hall at the moment.
Unlike the Emperor, who was still full of dignity, the expressions of the two Admirals, and the Supreme Commander, were distorted.
The reason was simple.
“How rude! How dare you stand tall when His Majesty, the Great Emperor of the Empire, has arrived!”
The Supreme Commander yelled furiously.
Previously, when the Emperor had arrived in the underground hall of the Royal Shrine, Zhu Taikhan and the others had immediately fallen to their knees.
However, there were a few people who simply hadn’t done so.
They were Chun Yeowun, a man with long black hair, and 4 people who were wearing Guards uniforms.
The Emperor had kept his mouth shut because he'd decided to deal with his son and the East Spear first. but now that they had been removed, the actions of these 4 people were simply unacceptable to him.
‘That unit is a mess. They seem to belong to the Southern unit, but how could these people commit such blasphemy in His Majesty's presence? !’
In the eyes of the Supreme Commander, Baek Jagi, the men in the Guards uniform had to kneel and greet the emperor.
Of course, it wasn’t just the guards, anyone in the Empire had to kneel in front of His Majesty.
“Well, you see, I can’t get down on my knee right now…”
It was the emperor who had stopped the Supreme Commander from charging ahead.
When the emperor raised his hand and signalled him to stop, the Supreme Commander who wanted to say something went silent.
To disobey the emperor’s orders meant to betray his authority.
“Are these the Wulin members who came with you?”
Zhu Taikhan, who was still kneeling, was shocked.
Although he hadn’t yet revealed who they were, the emperor managed to infer the relationship between him and them with his insight.
Of course, it was just his prediction, based solely on the fact that they hadn’t knelt.
“No, I didn’t bring them in, but they did help me.”
Zhu Taikhan spoke cautiously.
The Emperor is scary, but he is nothing compared to Chun Yeowun.
After hearing his words, the Emperor seemed to think for a moment.
‘There is no way that Yulin people could be this bold. So, they must be from there?’
He hadn’t witnessed everything.
However, the emperor had seen the young man in black robes brutally breaking the arms of his eldest son, Zhu Taiyoon.
He never involved private life with work matters, but he couldn’t help but feel offended.
Looking at Chun Yeowun and the Guards, the emperor opened his mouth.
“You are from the Demonic Cult?”
The only people of Wulin who could have come into contact with Zhu Taikahn were the members of the Demonic Cult, where he was sent as an envoy.
It was impossible for the Yulin groups to help him.
Chun Yeowun, who was still watching, put his hands together and said.
“I wanted to leave once I managed to settle things quietly, but as you know, things never go as planned. It is an honor to meet Your Majesty. I am Chun Yeowun, the current Lord of Demonic Cult.”
The emperor’s eyes widened at the word ‘Lord’, he knew that this man was strong, this was made clear when he broke Zhu Taiyoon's arm without touching him, but for him to be the Lord of Demonic Cult was unpredictable.
Unlike the emperor who was shocked, the commanders and the Admirals were angry.
Although the Imperial family and Wulin had a non-aggression treaty, Chun Yeowun’s actions could be considered treason in the eyes of others.
West Spear Admiral Yuk Cheong-un, a Superior Master, stepped forward with anger.
With each step he took, the floor below cracked.
Yuk Cheong-un, thinking that he had fully demonstrated his power, shouted in a voice filled with rage.
“You are being rude! How dare you act like that towards the Emperor? You will have to suffer…”
The sharp tip of a sword suddenly touched his neck.
‘Wh-when did this sword?’
The Admiral of West Spear hadn’t even seen the sword being drawn.
A moment before, they'd looked like normal Guards, but now one of them was pointing his sword at his neck.
“Old eunuchs don’t get to be disrespectful towards the Lord of the Demonic Cult. The Non-aggression treaty was signed with both parties on equal footing. We don’t work under you.”
“… swift swordsmanship. You must be Marakim.”
It was Great Guardian Marakim, wearing his mask.
Northern Commander Yeongjo was the one who guessed his identity.
Commander Yeongjo, who was said to be the best swordsman in the Imperial Palace, had acquaintances with the people of Yulin. He was able to identify this man, because of the constant orders he received from the Emperor to observe the Wulin.
“Your reputation undermines you. You are called the King of Death, because you control life and death on the battlefield. But!”
Yeongjo drew his sword from its sheath and aimed it at Marakim.
With a cold look, that clearly said that he was displeased.
“How dare you draw your sword in front of His Majesty, the Emperor of the Daemyeong Empire, and endanger a member of his court, an Admiral at that?”
Thud! Thud! Thud!
As soon as he was done speaking, the Guards began to move with their shields held ahead of them.
This was an army tactic meant to lower the morale of the enemy.
However, it lowered no one’s morale, but only riled up the hearts of the Demonic Cult members.
A sword moved on its own, drew a line on the ground in front of the Guards, and slashed a couple of shields.
Thanks to that, the Guards had no choice but to stop.
In front of those Guards, a person from Chun Yeowun’s side, donned in a Guard’s uniform, walked over and blocked their way forward, to stop them from taking another step forward.
Red hair was revealed under the man's helmet, he was Lee Hameng.
Lee Hameng's sword blazed with flames.
“This is a warning. Those who draw their swords will be killed right away.”
A warning which instilled fear in everyone's hearts...
As a result, the Guards gulped without realizing it.
“Fire… fire king!”
A sigh escaped from Yeongjo’s mouth.
The moment he saw the red hair, he immediately recognized who it was.
‘The Lord of the Demonic Cult! The King of Death and the Fire King? How could these monsters infiltrate the Imperial Palace without anyone's knowledge? Ugh.’
The new Lord of the Demonic Cult wasn’t very famous in the palace, but everyone in Wulin knew how strong the two Guardians were...
They were amazingly skilled martial artists and heartless merciless monsters.
One of the people who was still kneeling suddenly stood up.
A woman with a seductive body and hair falling down to her waist.
The Commanders knew her very well.
They thought that it was a good thing that they had her in the midst of the messy situation with the Demonic Cult.
If the Guardian, Ran-yeong, the strongest hidden warrior in the Imperial Palace came forward, then even the Demonic Cult would have a hard time.
‘He might be the Fire King! But she is a woman who has lived for hundreds of years. No matter how skilled those people are, they are nothing but children in front of her long experience and massive skill. Hehehe.’
As flames swirled around her body, she looked like the incarnation of the Qilin.
At her magnificence, Admiral Seo Tae-ski smiled.
“People of the Demonic Cult, you only have fire on your sword, but this, this is the true power of the Imperial Palace…”
Admiral Seo Tae-sik, who was feeling triumphant, couldn't believe his eyes.
Ran-yeong's flames, which were supposed to threaten the Demonic Cult, unexpectedly encircled the Guards and eunuchs.
They were being isolated from their allies.
“This, Guardian! What is this supposed to mean?”
Ignoring the bewildered question of Admiral Seo Tae-sik, Ran-yeong shouted to the three hundred people who had been blocked by the flames.
“Whoever threatens the Lord of the Demonic Cult, I, Ran-yeong, vow to burn them to ashes!”
Upon hearing the strangest thing ever, the commanders grew utterly speechless.
A woman who was supposed to be their strongest ally had just given them an extremely aggressive warning.
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