On a hill road of somewhere, a carriage was driving to a destination with a hundred of troops following behind.
“Ouch. Did something just hit my head?” One of the soldiers found a stone chip as he reached out to his head. Just when he was puzzling about the source of the chip, more of them dropped from above. And he looked up——
"Rocks! Rocks are falling! Protect our highness!”
Soldiers in the front quickly opened the carriage to escort the young man inside, and abandoned the carriage to run for life. Next moment, huge rocks fell down from the cliff, crashing the carriage and smashing the troops at the scene; Blood, flesh and organs were splattered everywhere, painting the road into crimson like hell.
“This…this is brutal…” Zichu, the young man inside the carriage, mumbled sorrowfully as he was a witness to the ambush.
“Aw. Too bad that this accident didn’t kill you, my dear boy.” Words from a cocky man sounded in the sandstorm.
Looking up, the young man saw a fat man riding on a horse. He was pissed off when he recognised this fat man. “Chancellor Zheng! What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Isn’t the answer very obvious after all these trap and ambush? Ugh, why would the emperor pick you as the heir? But anyway…” Chancellor Zheng grinned, but his nasty fat face made it even creepier. He continued, “ ‘cause you’ll be dying here today. My cavalries, kill this fool!”
A team of cavalries took the order to attack. No matter how hard Zichu’s army fought, the enemies overpowered them very soon as they were outnumbered.
“Still struggling. Let’s see how long you can hold on before dying. Hahaha——” Chancellor’s laughter was interrupted by the screams of the cavalries. A dozen of men galloped across the woods on the left, and raided the cavalries rapidly. Zichu was saved. One of the men helped him up. “My son, are you alright?” the man asked with care.
“Father, I’m fine. But Chancellor Zheng——” Zichu stopped as Ying Zheng raised his hand to signal. Ying Zheng looked Chancellor in the eyes and said, “I’ve already wiped out all your men in the city. But considering your achievement of the canal construction, I can spare all your crimes if you’re willing to surrender.”
“You——” Chancellor Zheng scowled because of Ying Zheng’s words, but his face was eased very soon. “You think those troops could match my army at battle? Oh my Ying Zheng, you’ve headed deep into great danger just for your foster son. Are you too old to make the right decision,” he continued with sarcasm.
“Shut your mouth! Don’t you dare insult my father!” The provoked Zichu drew his sword and went forward for a battle. Spotting a suspicious silver gleam, Ying Zheng instantly pounced on Zichu to protect him in the nick of time.
BOOM! A deafening explosion and an irritating smell interrupted the scene.
Ying Zheng’s left arm was blasted into a mess by firearms, but he still managed to put up with the extreme pain. “Run! Everyone run into the woods!” he commanded.
Under his order, the remaining soldiers immediately ran into the woods at the back. Thanks for the dense bushes, Ying Zheng and his crew could finally catch a breath. Right at this moment, dizziness kicked in. When Ying Zheng was about to fall, someone got him in time.
“Father, don’t exhaust yourself. Let me help. There’s a way leading to the town across the hill. We’ll be able to gather reinforcement once we get there,” the optimistic Zichu said, but Ying Zheng frowned in contrast.
“Will things go this smooth?”
The fact proved him right. When they managed to arrive at the peak, the bridge connecting to another hill was nowhere to be found.
“There should be a bridge!” Zichu said agitatedly.
“I’ve cut it off. And now you have nowhere to escape.” Chancellor Zheng and his army caught up with them. Ying Zheng was cornered where there were enemies confronting and no way out.
“...This man is intelligent. Too bad that he’s born with an ugly face,” the thought popped up in Ying Zheng’s mind. Despite all the injuries and threats, not even a single hint of fear wore on his face.
Chancellor Zheng waved to signal the soldiers in the front row to get their firearms ready, pointing at Ying Zheng and the rest.
“Father, what should we do? I… I don’t wanna die!” Zichu sobbed out of fear in this life-and-death moment.
“Sigh… Pushing me this far. Guess I have no choice but call it out,” Ying Zheng said. He took out a tiny white porcelain with unknown runes written on, and then bit his fingertip to bleed, dropping his blood into the bottle. Ying Zheng grabbed Zichu with his intact right arm, and jumped off the cliff!
Firearms started firing, and the hits were all taken by the soldiers of Ying Zheng. But the falling Zichu and him were no better than the soldiers.
“Come on, Violet Dragon!” Ying Zheng shouted. Echoing with his summon, the bottle shone blindingly and a four-headed violet dragon appeared out of nothing. It caught the falling Ying Zhen and Zichu and climbed up towards the sky.
“Monster! Shoot it!” Chancellor Zheng was freaked out by this violet dragon, commanding the army to shoot.
“Humph. Waste of time!” Ying Zheng muttered with disdain, and took the bow and arrows on Zichu’s back. With the bow holding under his numbed left arm, he held an arrow in the mouth, trying to lit the tip by his right hand. But the injury kept him from doing it. At this moment, Zichu approached to lend a helping hand.
“Father, what’s your plan?”
“If they carried firearms, there must be gunpowder with them. We only need a little sparkle to cause a huge explosion.”
Ying Zheng searched around with his bare eyes. Soon, a carriage covered with white cloth was spotted. He then squinted to aim the target, firing the arrow at it.
BANG! Lighting up by the fire arrow, the gunpowder exploded vigorously. Flames spread to the area nearby in the blink of an eye, burning down the surrounding woods. Chancellor Zheng and his army were trapped in the combustion; Horrifying screams were everywhere.
“This is the consequence of going… against...me…” Ying Zheng finally relieved when all the enemies were wiped out. And his tough consciousness started to fade away. When he opened his eyes again, he was already lying in his palace. Zichu, staying at the bedside, was woken up by his movement.
“Father! You finally woke up!”
Ying Zheng realized the absence of his left arm when he was getting himself up. Zichu frowned and said, “The doctor said your left arm had to be removed for the injury had been waited too long... It’s all my fault. You wouldn’t have lost it if it wasn’t for me.”
“No, I should be thanking you. I wouldn’t be able to eliminate Chancellor Zheng and all his men if it wasn’t for your recklessness. As for my arm… Don’t worry ‘cause I’ll get it back.”
Ying Zheng reached out to touch Zichu’s young and exquisite face, and then slid down on his neck, rubbing him gently.
“Father…?” the puzzled Zichu called him with a slight fear hidden within.
“I’m sick of this aged body too. It’s time for a new one...” leaning close to Zichu, Ying Zheng continued to whisper, “offer your soul.”
Once he finished his words, an immense violet figure popped out of his body and penetrated through Zichu. Violet Dragon held a white light sphere in the mouth then swallowed it. Next second, the stiffed Zichu fell down on the bed like a corpse.
“Hmm...Burp. This soul tasted way too nasty. I won’t count that for the price of summoning me. Offer me a pure soul or I’ll rip you into pieces!”
“Relax. Child, young girl or whosoever, you’ll get what you want after settling everything. But I gotta change this crappy body first.”
Ying Zheng closed his eyes and whispered the runes. A thick dark haze clouded above his head, which appeared to be his soul. Leaving the original body, the soul floated above Zichu’s body, and got into it.
“Mmm…It feels so good to be young. I’m so vitalized now,” Ying Zheng, in Zichu’s body, said as he stretched.
Intrigued by Ying Zheng, the floating Violet Dragon approached him. “By the way, how many bodies have you changed so far,” it asked.
“Ha. Too many that I’ve lost count,” Ying Zheng laughed, making the matter causal like a small talk, and he continued, “but this will not be the last one.”
“For all the years I’ve lived, I’ve never seen any creatures like you. You’re not exactly evil for all the merits you’ve done for the people; But you’re certainly not a saint for all the lives you’ve killed in exchange for eternity…”
Violet Dragon squinted at Ying Zheng.
“What are you exactly?”
“Haha. What a funny question,” Ying Zheng avoided answering and kept tidying up. “It’s time to clean up the mess. I’ll call you again when the offerings are ready,” he said after settling his old body. Just a snap of finger and it returned into the tiny bottle.
Then, Ying Zheng stumbled out of the bedroom and cried about the death of the emperor. The deathstroke rang all over the palace; Funeral rituals lasted for three months. The enthronement followed right after the mourning period. Wearing the crown and gown, Ying Zheng in the new vessel ascended to the throne. Thousands of courtiers knelt outside the palace, greeting the new emperor.
“Long live the emperor.”
Leaning against the throne, Ying Zheng grinned as he looked at the courtiers kneeling before him. His grin went even wider when he recalled Violet Dragon’s question.
“What am I? I am the emperor of eternity.”