Chapter 245: The Imperial Palace
Li Meilin was escorted by a large group of knights, all of which were dressed in the emperor’s red colors showing that these experts were from the Royal Guard. The most elite guards in all of Siban. For Li Meilin to be escorted by his force, one could tell just how much the emperor valued her.
Li Meilin was picked up within one of the marketplaces in the commoner part of town, and now she was escorted by twenty red dressed men. Their speed slowed down, and it took them around two hours for them to make their way through the lively city. Even the usually uncrowded areas where family compounds were located turned crowded as news of Li Meilin had spread through the capital like wildfire. Everyone wished to get a look at this woman. This woman who was the first person to ever leave Shenyuan.
Finally, after hours of moving at snail’s pace, Li Meilin saw the imperial palace in front of her. Her heart squeezed tightly in worry about the subject she was about to bring up with the emperor. Although the emperor was far inferior in power when it came to cultivation, he was none the less the head of the entire Siban Empire a man whom Li Meilin looked up to and would do anything for.
Walking through the many different corridors and halls, they finally reached the hall in which the emperor greeted his subjects. As soon as the guards noticed Li Meilin, the two of them opened the doors and with loud voices proclaimed, “Lady Li, Senior Overseer from the Shenyuan Delegation.”
As soon as her name was called, a murmur rose from within the hall as neither nobles nor officials could keep their voices down. They all felt excitement after having an expert return, yet although she had returned many were curious as to why she survived when even the Saint leading the delegation seemed to have died. He was by far the strongest of the group, yet despite that it seemed like he had succumbed to the lands of Shenyuan.
Entering the room the murmur grew louder and louder, but no one could hear what exactly was being said as everyone spoke at the same time. As soon as she reached the middle of the hall she stopped and kowtowed in front of the emperor whom she greatly admired.
As the emperor lifted his hand the room descended into silence, no one dared say a word. Everyone was breathing as quietly as they possibly could, they were doing anything in their power to not attract the attention of the emperor.
“Lady Li Meilin, we are greatly pleased to see that you have managed to escape the borders of Shenyuan. We assume that you have a lot of information to share with us.”
Hearing his words, Li Meilin nodded her head as she slowly rose to her feet. Her upper body bowed deeply to the emperor in front of her. The woman dared not lift her head as it might make her seem disrespectful.
“We entered Shenyuan according to plan, however the first thing we came across was a village with humanoid magical beasts.” She started from the beginning and was ready to explain everything which had happened. “The lord decided that we were to take slaves and destroy the city. After that, we were to execute anyone who was not worth being a slave.”
“The beasts we came across were not capable of putting up a fight, and so the battle took a lot less time than what we had expected. As soon as the slaves had been tied up, we kept marching through the forest.”
“Shenyuan is a forest?” The emperor asked and Li Meilin gasped as she had forgotten that detail, “Shenyuan is one massive jungle. The entire country is a forest. I apologize for leaving that out,” She said as her heart was racing in her chest.
“Continue,” The emperor said as though he did not care too much. Hearing this, Li Meilin let out a sigh of relief as she continued.
“The only thing we saw was a forest and magical beasts. Within the vast forest no ordinary beasts were visible, only humanoid beasts and magical beasts lived within. We slowly moved forward, but then we ran into a group of humanoid beasts. All of them were Kings or emperors apart from their leader who was a Saint. After they attacked us, she just played around with the lord. Killing him was simple for her and releasing the slaves was also a walk in the park. I was the only survivor and for some reason these beasts brought me to their capital where I was permitted to live. If I hate to guess why they let me live, it must have been because I was against the lord taking slaves.”
“The capital of Shenyuan is much like one of our cities, but instead of humans, it is filled with humanoid beasts. They all looked similar to humans but with distinct beastly features. I was allowed to live at the castle where the Queen of Shenyuan stays. I soon uncovered quite a bit of disturbing information. Shenyuan is divided into sixty-four prefectures, and each prefecture is controlled by a Lord of the Forest. For one to become a Lord of the Forest one needs to be a Saint ranked expert.”
“What?!” Disbelief was visible in everyone present. Everyone forgot that they were supposed to be quiet. They were all too shocked to hear that there were at a minimum of sixty-four Saints within Shenyuan. Having sixty-four Saints was far more than what the Siban Empire current had. The Siban Empire had at most half that amount. Although it was half Shenyuan’s amount, they had been arrogant recently as they had more Saints than any of the other three Kingdoms within the continent. Hearing that Shenyuan had this many experts, shock and terror filled everyone present.
“Your majesty, it gets worse,” Li Meilin said with a low voice. Her words instantly bringing the entire hall to silence. Everyone was looking at her with terrified eyes.
“The reason they allowed me to leave Shenyuan was because they were starting things which they did not wish for me to know about. There is within Shenyuan a person who is a half beast half human. This person warned me that Shenyuan is preparing for war. That they will either attack the Taiyang Kingdom or our Siban Empire. He is from the Taiyang Kingdom, and the reason he told me and helped me escape was for the sake of warning the Taiyang Empire. It is obvious that Wan Qiao, the beast known as the Queen of Shenyuan, plans on starting a war against us, humans, to expand their empire.”
Hearing this the face of the emperor turned pale, but it was not only him everyone in the building was now worried. If Sixty-four experts were willing to go to war, then who would be able to block them? According to their knowledge no one could do so.
“I doubt that they will take all sixty-four experts of Shenyuan to fight in the war,” She continued. “Shenyuan was always the target for the Taiyang Kingdom and us. If they were to leave it empty then the kingdom they do not attack is likely to go and attack them; however, their army will not only consist of Saints.”
“Each of these experts have ten thousand guards. These guards are not soldiers, but I imagine that they could easily be forged into soldiers. Let us assume that half the Saints will be used for the war then they will still have a lot of guards following. Although these guards are not soldiers, and although our army is more than four times as big, all their guards are either Kings or emperor ranked experts. When it comes to quality, theirs are far better than our army. We also have to remember that these experts are not human cultivators, all of them are magical beasts.
Li Meilin was very worried about their current circumstance. Her heart was beating erratically, and her eyes were closed shut as she wondered what punishment she would get given the bad news she was brought. However, when she snuck a peek at the exalted man in front of her, what she saw was not horror at these events instead he seemed to be pondering.
Silence prevailed within the hall, no one dared to speak After a short while with only silence, a few sobs could be heard here and there. Clearly the ladies of the upper class were terrified by the information Li Meilin just provided. Li Meilin, herself, felt her heart bleeding with worry and fear.
Finally, a long time after Li Meilin had finished her speech, the emperor spoke with an even voice and clear determination.
“We thank you for the information you have brought us.” He said. His voice booming through the silence of the hall, completely overshadowing the few sobs that were heard here and there. “We will meet with our generals and discuss how to handle this matter with these magical beasts. Although they are more numerous than us, we will not back down from the responsibility of protecting our citizens.” Hearing the emperor speak such words, all the nobles and officials within the hall felt elated. If those guards of Shenyuan chose to fight against their Siban Empire, it was not certain who would emerge victorious. Guards were not soldiers, and as stated previously although they were stronger, they still had more experts on their side. Even if the opponents were kings, although they were far stronger than Dukes, how would they win if twenty or thirty Dukes attacked them at the same time? Although most Kings would prevail, a battleground was no ordinary place. The emperor was betting on their ability to overrun the smaller army.
“Generals, heed me!” The emperor called out as he stood up, and around twenty men from the audience stepped forward; their backs straight and their faces serious. It was obvious that they understood just how important the meeting they were to attend would be. Stepping forward, each and every one of them bowed deeply to the emperor. After the men waited for the emperor to stand, all of them bowed deeply once more. The officials and the nobles standing in the room all kowtowed to the emperor, waiting for him to leave the room.
“Oh,” Standing, the emperor looked back for a moment as his eyes fell on Li Meilin, the woman who seemed young but who was an exalted expert. “Li Meilin, you are to follow Us. You are the only one who has ever been inside the Shenyuan jungle. Having your assistance will be a great help to Us.” He said with a steady voice before he went towards the door behind his throne. Leaving the room, the Generals and Li Meilin who were bowing, all scrambled to follow behind the emperor. Their heads lowered so that they would not look at the emperor in front of them.
Although this emperor was nothing but a Duke ranked expert, he was feared even by most Saints in Siban. The reason behind this was not only because of his high rank and his royal blood but also because behind him were two shadows. Shadows that no one would recognizes unless they themselves had the rank of a Saint. These two shadows were the emperor’s personal aides. When it came to strength, no Saint within Siban was their match. Even when it came to Shenyuan, the emperor had faith in his two shadows were capable of dealing with quite a few of their opponents. Although Lord Song whom he had sent to Shenyuan before was a Saint, he was nothing but the weakest amongst all his Saints. That he did not make it out was not shocking in the least for the emperor. What was shocking was that Li Meilin had made it out, and this was something which caught the emperor’s interest.