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Backstory

        “Huang Zhong, how long have you been serving me?” The old emperor asked.
        “Well, I guess almost 30 years.” Huang Zhong answered.
        The old emperor was weak, lying in bed. He had always been healthy and strong, but suddenly came down with an illness without any reason. His situation was getting worse and worse. All imperial doctors were at their wit’s end as there was no medicine to cure it. The old emperor knew he would be dead soon.
        “My time is almost up. The prince will succeed my throne after I pass away, but…” The emperor had a bad cough. “Cough——the prince has been nurtured by Dong Zhuo since he was a child. I’m afraid the imperial authority will tilt towards Dong Zhuo. My original intention is to balance the power between Cao Song and Dong Zhuo, but now it seems, that is the stupidest decision I’ve ever made.”
        “Please don't say so. Your Majesty surely can——”
        “I’m very clear about my condition. You have to promise me one thing.”
        “...Your Majesty, I’m all ears.”
        “After the prince is on throne, please keep an eye on Dong Zhuo. His...ambition is far more than this...if he poses a threat to the court, people or even the whole nation, please kill him.
        “Understood.”
        Before long, the old emperor passed away at a snowy night. Supported by Dong Zhuo and other ministers, the prince succeeded the throne; Huang Zhong continued to be appointed as the Chief General. However, no one knew that Huang Zhong was still carrying the last command of the deceased old emperor…
        Huang Zhong had been watching Dong Zhuo’s action. As the old emperor expected, he bribed other officials and got rid of dissidents in no time, monopolizing the power. The emperor was only his puppet. Based on the will of the old emperor, Huang Zhong should have eliminated him. However, it was more difficult than he thought. Killing him was not an easy task…
        Huang Zhong wanted to gather more power to confront Dong Zhuo, but after the demotion of Cao Song, some officials were afraid of resisting him as they did not want to end up like Cao Song; some had already become his henchmen.
        “I need new blood to deal with Dong Zhuo…” Huang Zhong found out that soon an imperial examination would be organized to recruit talents joining the court.
        On the examination day, he came to the examination site to observe the candidates secretly. At this moment, a sudden noise draw his attention——a juvenile was stopped by soldiers. He looked familiar to Huang Zhong, and kept yelling: “Why can’t I join the exam? Is it because I’m the son of Cao Song!? The bastard, Dong Zhuo, is afraid of me, so I’m not allowed to take the exam! Correct?”
        “He is the son of Cao Song? Maybe only a person like him will never be bribed by Dong Zhuo, or fear him. I need this young boy…”
        Huang Zhong pondered as he came up to the soldiers and Cao Cao; Cao Cao was pushed down to the ground, and they were about to beat him up! Cao Cao tried to block their punches by raising his hands; Huang Zhong charged at the soldiers, parried it with a palm and dislocated their arms, which made them groan in pain; the other soldiers recognized Huang Zhong, then immediately kneeled down to show their courtesy. Everyone did not dare to act rashly at that moment.
        “The purpose of the examination is to recruit talents into the court. Since this young boy is confident of becoming an official, why can’t we give him a chance?” Huang Zhong turned around to help Cao Cao up, “come! I escort you into the site.”
        “Why did you help me?”
        “The court needs you, to light up the darkness…” There were overtones in Huang Zhong’s words, which he hoped Cao Cao could understand his implied meaning. Arriving at the examination site, Cao Cao took a deep breath and opened the wooden door. As he stepped into the site, he said as he looked back: “If I become an official, I’ll dispel the darkness, I promise!”
        The confidence in his eyes imprinted in Huang Zhong’s heart. He began to look forward to the new dawn of the court.
        Cao Cao did not let Huang Zhong down. With his strength and Huang Zhong’s help, Cao Cao successfully became a new imperial official. However, their powers were not strong enough to confront Dong Zhuo…
        “I need your help. I have to stand out in the court in order to expand my power.”
        “Right...but, how can I help?”
        Cao Cao and Huang Zhong met secretly to discuss what to do next to deal with Dong Zhuo. Listening to Cao Cao’s tactics, Huang Zhong thought such young boy was really a genius.
        “If I solve the problem that all the ministers have never been able to, then I can prove that I’m valuable to the court.” Cao Cao smiled. “I need more intelligence. As long as I get it, all the problems will be solved.”
        “Ha! I thought you’d give me more difficult tasks! Don’t worry. It’s an easy job——”
        “No, I mean I need to borrow your men who you used to gather information. If we meet often, it will create suspicion easily, and you understand Dong Zhuo is always skeptical. Plus, It can facilitate my work.”
        Huang Zhong was convinced of his words, and his concerns were reasonable. Therefore, he accepted giving Cao Cao his subordinates for gathering information. As Huang Zhong left, Cao Cao showed an evil look and grinned. Huang Zhong never expected that the person he brought into the court was actually more unfathomable and terrible than Dong Zhuo. The abyss brought by Cao Cao would be far deeper...

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