“Wei Lang, do not regret the move you made.”

The hostage prince from the Chu Empire was favoured by the Emperor.

Within half a month, the whole palace had heard of this news.

If nothing else, his Majesty pampered him too openly.

His Majesty himself had decreed that Shijun was to be treated equally as the Empress, not some lowly concubine. All the court should also address him as Young Master and treat him with extreme courtesy.

His Majesty had him staying in the Yangxin Palace Hall, eating the same food and sleeping on the same bed as him. Every night was a wild night, some even heard that the Young Master Lian couldn’t get out of bed for three straight days once.

His Majesty bestowed him jewels and magnificent outfits, agreed to every order, even gave him ‘Heshibi和氏璧: A sacred bi, a type of ceremonial jade disk, which was considered as regalia and had an important role in Chinese history.
’, the world’s most valuable treasure.

His Majesty...

The trivial ones on the list were too numerous to mention one by one. All the members of the Imperial Court weren’t as believing at first, thinking that his Majesty just obtained this plaything and was spoiling it immoderately while it was still new.

But when his Majesty announced in the Court—“We are content with just Wei Lang, there is no need to mention the matter in regards to selecting another nominee for our harem.” The ministers wouldn’t stand by and do nothing.

How could this be? What a scandal this was!

During this moment, they all knelt down one after another, imploring his Majesty to reconsider.

Ji Yue directly slammed a portrait down. “Beauty is acceptable. Find one that is more beautiful than Wei Lang, and we might consider it.”

At first, the ministers thought that His Majesty yielded to their pleas and were overjoyed, but when they saw the portrait, they were all silent.

The young man in the painting was standing among a field of white snow and red plum flowers. Behind him was the Jiuzhong Palace. The youth’s skin was fair as snow, lips blushing the same shade as the plum flowers, dark hair descended like a waterfall, and his eyebrows were beautifully curved and outlined. The painting was so lifelike, as if he could step out of it at any time.

The corners were inscribed with eight graceful and sharp inscriptions: The Seven Lands’ Most Magnificent and Talented Man.

If anyone else had used these words, the ministers would have laughed at the arrogance. But when they stared at the young man in the painting, they couldn’t ridicule because of how true the inscriptions were.

...Was there really a more remarkably beautiful person than the one captured in the painting?

It would be like looking for a needle in a haystack!

Seeing his ministers were keeping silent, Ji Yue leaned lazily on his imperial throne and said with a smile, “What’s wrong? With how big the Qin Empire is, you don’t think you can find anyone even more beautiful than Wei Lang? We have no interest in ordinary appearances. Don’t bother us with this in the future unless a more beautiful candidate is found.”

The crowd of ministers: “...”

His Majesty’s request was simply too difficult for them.

It would have been easy if the request was just for beautiful people, but to find one who was more beautiful than Young Master Lian? Even Princess Chonghua, said to be the most beautiful in the Seven Lands, would fall short.

To deal with his Majesty, someone whose words were always absolute, they had to take a step back in this matter with no more room to advance. When one was used to the sight of a stunning beauty, why would they taste other appetisers, even during their leisure time? Putting themselves in the Emperor’s point of view, they were not daring enough to persuade His Majesty.

The few ministers who formerly wanted to seize the opportunity to send members of their family to the palace to secure a possible spot in the harem gave up on their plans. Only because their sisters, daughters and granddaughters have this ‘ordinary appearance’, they would never catch His Majesty’s eyes.

The ministers all went off to search for the beauty during their private time, leaving Ji Yue a moment of peace.

* * *

“It seems that your Majesty won’t need to worry about this matter for the time being.” Wei Lian greeted him and came forward as soon as Ji Yue returned, catching the swiftly removed court outfit.

He could tell the other man was in a good mood and knew the reason for it without much deep thinking.

There was only one thing that had been bothering the Qin Emperor in recent days.

The half a month of acting finally paid off.

“All thanks to Wei Lang, we will give you credit for that.” Ji Yue had just returned from outside as he warmed his hands using the stove heater. “What reward do you want for solving such a big problem for us?”

Wei Lian turned the credit down. “This is just part of this subject’s duty.”

He was not a materialist, what he cared about was living a comfortable life, having the basic necessities, and without experiencing hunger.

But if there was something that he really wanted...then naturally it would be the antidote to his poison. Unfortunately, this was something he couldn’t ask for.

He could act capriciously, but he could not act like he was trying to free himself from the Qin Emperor’s control.

Ji Yue looked as if he remembered something as he took a pill out and gave it to him. “This is the antidote. Take it once every half month and it will keep you alive.”

Wei Lian accepted it and studied it with his eyes lowered. When he put it close to his lips, he secretly took a light sniff.

Siever’s wormwood herb, beefsteak plant, asparagus cochinchinensis, plantago asiatica...

There were a few more herbs that he couldn't determine by smell.

If he couldn’t tell by their smell, then he couldn’t recreate his own antidote.

Even if he produced his own antidote, it was not a long-term solution as it was just something to delay the poison by half a month of time. It couldn’t cure him fully.

In just one breath, Wei Lian took the pill without revealing any expression, not allowing the Qin Emperor to harbour suspicions.

He chuckled and said, “Would your Majesty do this subject the honour of playing a match of Weiqi下局棋: Also called Go, is an abstract strategy board game. The goal is to surround more territory than the opponent using the pieces. (I had to look what abstract strategy means, it’s for games where experience doesn’t matter, as in the rules and the theme of the game do not change).

* * *

When Wei Lian requested a match, it was only an offhand remark. With nothing else to ask for, and instead of demanding flashy gold, silver, and jewels, it was better to retreat for the sake of advancing.

After successfully postponing the selection, it meant that his value to the Qin Emperor would start to fade.

He always had to present to the Qin Emperor his new value.

He was a master of the four arts, having studied under his otherworldly Shifu. He once played a game where the world was the board, and the seven empires were the game pieces. He learned the patterns of seizing the throne.

That game’s victory fell into his hands.

“Yuzhi is the current holder of the smartest man in the world title, sadly, you’re a general whose talent could only be admired on paper.” His Shifu sighed. “This small palace of the Chu Empire cannot contain you. If you ever walk out of here, there is no part of the seven empires that you won’t have a taste of.”

The young Wei Lian sat sloppily as he relaxed into his seat. “Shifu, can you please stop calling me Yuzhi? It sounds so much like a girl’s name.”

Yuzhi was Wei Lian’s courtesy name字: Courtesy or style name traditionally given to males aged twenty in dynastic China (adulthood) or when the person is worthy of a courtesy name (like graduation).
, which took the meaning of ‘orchids and jade trees芝蘭玉樹: A child with splendid future prospects.’. Wei Yuzhi’s courtesy name really described the person.

At first, Wei Lian thought the metaphorical meaning of this name was good, but after learning a palace maid shared the same name...He refused to acknowledge the Yuzhi name for himself.

“Are you even listening to me!” His Shifu angrily smacked his hand on the table.

Wei Lian promptly nodded his head. “This disciple has benefited from Shifu’s advice.”

“Benefited from what advice?” Shifu said with bitterness. “You think this master is blind? You have the talent to pacify the world, but you lack ambition. If only you were interested in fighting for the Chu Empire’s throne, Prince Jiao would never have gotten the title as the next successor.”

Wei Lian propped his cheek and sighed. “This disciple only desires to be free, I don't want to bear the fate of ten million people.”

Shifu looked deeply at him. “Yuzhi, you can’t escape from your predestined future.”

His Shifu had never made a false claim.

Later, the one who conquered the majority of the seven lands was not some unknown Wei Yuzhi, but an iron-blooded and cold-hearted young man.

His surname was Ji, name Yue, with courtesy name of Yungui.

In the end, Wei Lian still carried the fate of ten million people as he travelled alone to the Qin Empire to fulfil his duties as his empire’s prince.

His Shifu was right, he really couldn’t escape his fate.

* * *

Wei Lian was awakened by a sting on his forehead.

The youth snapped back to reality as the Qin Emperor flicked Wei Lian’s forehead. There were traces of confusion inside of those beautiful eyes.

Ji Yue sucked in a breath in his head. That’s kind of cute.

“You dare to daydream when playing against us.” Ji Yue said coldly. “Wei Lian, is there anything that you don’t dare to do?”

Wei Lian made a short “Ah” before he realised his thoughts wandered away for a moment.

As someone who was very wary of anyone, he was actually absent-minded in the presence of the Qin Emperor.

With a solemn expression, Wei Lian said, “This subject is serious now.”

“No need.” Ji Yue’s tone dropped a few degrees. “You’ve already lost.”

Wei Lian lowered his head and saw he lost miserably.


This was the first time that Wei Lian had ever lost a match. It suddenly aroused his competitive nature. “Another match.”

Ji Yue glanced at him and set up a new game.

* * *

The sound of moving pieces lasted deep into the night when the candles were lit as their flame flickered.

Wei Lian was not to be underestimated when he was serious about winning, as his victory against the Qin Emperor was an even split.

“We had no idea that Wei Lang was so skilled.” Ji Yue smiled, feeling slightly interested as well as appreciative. “It’s been a long time since someone tied with us.”

Wei Lian’s eyes were locked on the stalemate game for a while before he smiled back. “Is that so?”

Today, he played seven games against the Qin Emperor, and except for the first game he lost due to being distracted, he won three and lost two of the other five games. Both sides won by a narrow margin, neither were too far apart.

The Qin Emperor advanced like an unstoppable force, and Wei Lian played like an unmovable object, where each of his defenses were done methodically. Both sides exercised restraint, making it hard to determine the victor.

This seventh match ended in a tie.

Meaning there was no clear victor after a day of playing.

The two glanced at each other before lowering their eyes at the same time, hiding the feeling of appreciating their equally wise opponent.

Ji Yue cleaned and set up a new game. “Another match!”

To finally meet a worthy adversary, he wouldn’t give up unless one of them comes out in victory.

* * *

It was late so the eighth match would decide the ultimate winner of the day, so both of them played extremely cautiously.

The Qin Emperor, dressed in black, commanded the black pieces, and the Young Master dressed in white controlled the white pieces. The stalemate lasted until the incense burned into a pile of ash.

Wei Lian thought deeply for a long time before moving a piece. He suddenly frowned, mocking himself for making a mistake.

He tried to shift the piece to the right location, but the back of his hand was stopped by another long, slender hand. He could feel the heat from where their skin touched.

“Wei Lang, do not regret the move you made落子無悔: I don’t know if Weigi has the same rules as Chinese chess, but there are two sacred rules in Chinese chess. 觀棋不語真君子, 落子無悔大丈夫, roughly translated as: A true gentleman should keep silent while watching a chess game; a man of character has no regrets on the move he made. Simply, keep quiet as the viewer and no take backs as the player..” Ji Yue mischievously looked at him with his long and narrow eyes.

Under the candlelight, the Qin Emperor’s face was so handsome that it was somewhat flirtatious.

Wei Lian helplessly glanced at him and tossed the white piece aside.

“This subject has lost.”

* * *

Later on, Wei Lian thought about how someone as lazy as him, so much so that he didn’t even want to strive for his future prospects, would ever be willing to accompany that man to conquer the world?

He thought about this long and hard. He remembered that brightly lit night and the shambles of the black and white pieces on the board, as the sand ran through the hourglass’s neck quietly.

The handsome Emperor’s hand covered his own, as he said with a smile at the corner of his lips followed by his long eyebrows.

“Wei Lang, do not regret the move you made...”

It turned out that since then, he had given his whole life away.

Authors Corner

The author has something to say:

I want ninety-nine percent of the seven lands below heaven. 

—Han Fei, Nine Songs of the Moving Heavens.

Teo: Add on the author’s note. From my time doing research, Han Fei, the character from the donghua (Chinese animation), Nine Songs of the Moving Heavens, used ninety-nine percent because that number is essentially one hundred percent, as there are many saying of nine is one or absolute (like 九九歸一 or nine divide by nine is one—abacus rule). Plus ninety-nine is less awkward than saying one hundred. 

The ninety-nine saying showed up two times in the chapter and I replaced it with ‘the majority’ (The one who conquered the majority of the seven lands) and ‘no part of’ (There is no part of the seven empires that you won’t have a taste of).

Translator's Corner

Translator has something to add: 

Teo: A short rant, I hate how novels never specify which strategy board game they are playing but machine translation always spit out ‘chess’ (棋 could mean chess or ‘chess-like-game’). When in doubt, a game of white and white pieces is Weiqi, the game of black and red pieces is Chinese chess…Until the scared rules showed up (I only know these rules because I used to take classes in Chinese chess, it had been engraved into my brain), what the fuck are they playing then?!?! I ended up using Weiqi because in terms of the ‘four arts’ mentioned, Weiqi is one of the four arts. So that’s two points for Weiqi and one point for Chinese chess. Just the daily struggle of the translator. 


1 Comment

  1. Muggelschmuggel

    Dear ministers, have fun with your impossible task :3

    Thx for the ch ٩(。˃ ᵕ ˂ )و

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