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"Now that your position is settled, it is time to reinstate the Xia people." The empress dowager said looking at the emperor sitting on the side. The two were the only people in the hall.

"I can't do that." The emperor calmly responded.

The empress dowager frowned, "You owe it your people."

"That is precisely why I cannot do that."

"What do you mean by this?" The empress dowager asked narrowing her eyes on the verge of anger.

The emperor glanced at her face and then looked off to the side and explained, "I cannot release one set of people and ignore the others."

"You did that for Yang country." The empress dowager refuted.

"The circumstances around that were different. The late emperor had not made arrangements with regards to them due to his ailment, so the decision was passed over to me on ascension and so I simply left the people as they were and directly adopted them as Long citizens. This way it could be perceived as a show of grace upon ascension and also a grand way of showing the people that I plan to rule differently."

"So you're just going to let your people keep suffering?!" The empress dowager said raising her voice.

The emperor sighed and looked at the empress dowager, "Mother, it's been twenty years, the Xia country cannot be reinstated."

The empress dowager froze and then she asked through gritted teeth, "So you're going to continue to let your people rot?"

"Of course not, I will not let any of my people remain suffering, but a change like this takes time. If I do as you want and liberate only those from Xia, I will have enemies on all sides. The nobles who will suffer a loss and the enslaved from other countries will bear a grudge against me and those from Xia, as they also deserve to be liberated just the same and it is unfair to liberate one and not the others. This will cause civil unrest, which we cannot afford to have right now because the threat of war with Zou country is still looming. Civil unrest right now could mean the destruction of this country. This matter has to be handled properly and will take some time."

"Who cares about that?!" The empress dowager angrily said.

"You should. If this country falls so does all hope for salvation for the Xia people. Xia country cannot be reinstated, otherwise, all five countries that have been conquered through the years will ask to be reinstated as well, this will break the empire and will cause its downfall, others will invade and destroy us...if Long empire falls then all people within fall with it." The emperor got up, looked at the empress dowager who was clenching tightly her fists and said, "I know what I am doing." and then left.

The empress dowager sat there clenching her fists with a deep frown for a while.

...If I can't accomplish this as well, what is the point of living all these years?...

The emperor left the empress dowager's palace in an irritated mood and wandered around for a bit, and ended up stopping as he passed by an archery site, looking at the shooting platform. Lei Xing was standing there with her servants, holding a bow in each hand of her hands, seemingly testing their weight. Then she dropped one and was pulling at the string of the other, raising it up and aiming at the targets with no arrows. Then she dropped this one and picked up the other and did the same.

Archery was one of the things Lei Xing has always had an interest in, but just never got the chance to get involved in it. Actually, it's more like she didn't take the opportunity when they presented, either because she was too lazy or too busy to devote the time to it. She remembered there was an archery club in her university and she did think of joining several times but in the end, chose not to because of two reasons. First, she had to pay quite a bit of money to join for her own gear or something and she didn't feel inclined to spend. Second, she also felt the meetings will get in the way of her busy schedule and downtime, she is not the sort of person to follow group activities and tends to feel they are a bother after a while, she wasn't a social person by choice, she much rather cuddle at home when free with a good novel or drama or go off on her own to go do whatever she wanted; see a show, watch a movie, go on a trip e.t.c - it was much easier to get things done on her own. So, she had never even had the chance to see a bow and arrow in real life before, but she always thought it was so cool watching the characters in dramas shoot them. Therefore, when she passed by this free archery set-up, she made a U-turn and indulged. There were a bunch of arrows in three pots and about three bows hanging on a board in the back, she thought some guards must have set up for practice and left for a bit. There were guards standing around the area, but none of them stopped her as she approached it and so she went ahead.

Lei Xing stood there for a while admiring and testing out the bows. Ah Jin beside her asked, "Your highness, would you like an arrow?"

"No, no...this is fine." Lei Xing said while continuing to aim at a target pulling an empty bowstring.

...Arrow? Let me graduate from air first...

"How about I teach you?" A voice suddenly interrupted her fun.

Lei Xing and the others turned towards the voice to see the emperor and his retinue climbing up the shooting platform. Lei Xing and the rest bowed towards him. Then she quickly passed the bow to a servant and said, "Ah no need." Then bowed quickly and turned to go down the other side.

"Are you avoiding me?" The emperor calmly asked as he walked forward and took the bow from the servant.

Lei Xing stopped and turned back, plastered on a smile, "No, of course not. I just don't want to interrupt your activities."

"You're not." The emperor said dismissing her "concern".

Lei Xing's mouth twitched then she said, "I just came here in passing so I am not particularly interested in archery."

The emperor raised an eyebrow at her and smirked, "Not interested? You've been playing around with a bow for about ten minutes."

Lei Xing blinked, glanced down and mumbled, "It wasn't that long..."

...Also, why were you keeping track of the time...and more importantly what the hell were you watching a person doing nothing for ten minutes for...you must be really bored -_-)'...

"How about a contest then?" The emperor asked with a smile.

Lei Xing looked at him skeptically and forced a smile, "How can a novice like me dare to compete with a great general like yourself? I don't play losing games."

The emperor laughed, "Of course you can't. You're right, it is definitely a losing game for you."

Lei Xing did not share in his amusement.

...Ha...ha...very funny -_-)...

"Since this is the case, I will give you a huge advantage. Ten rounds, you just have to hit anywhere on the target once and you win, while I have to hit the bullseye in all ten rounds to win. This makes it more than fair for you, right? How about it?" He finished with a smirk and a challenging expression.

Lei Xing scrutinized him.

...What the hell is this guy's problem now?... Although 1/10...that is a great advantage...forget it, why the hell should I be his entertainment? -_-)...

Lei Xing was just about to open her mouth to decline, when the emperor spoke up, "Ah for the prize, how about the winner can request one wish from the other person?"

Lei Xing's ears perked up, "One wish?"

"Yes, anything."

Lei Xing's entire person brightened as she thought over the possibilities.

...Anything? Then I can leave, wow I didn't expect the opportunity to present itself like this, Hurray!! Hurray!!... Wait, wait, wait....too soon...I have to win first...It's just 1/10, I can do that...the target's also not too far...I mean it shouldn't be that hard to hit somewhere on the target, right?... Also, he pretty much already has the power to order anything...so I even if I lose, I technically don't lose anything and he doesn't really gain anything, right?...but then why is he doing this?... Who cares! It's a golden opportunity!...

Lei Xing still had one concern to iron out, "What if we both succeed?"

The emperor burst out laughing again. Lei Xing frowned and then said, "I should clarify that while it will be a great feat for me to hit the target once, it should be a considerably easy feat for you to hit it ten times with your experience, so they cannot be put on the same level of evaluation." Lei Xing confidently said while cringing on the inside

...Ah, this haggling is really shameless >_<Wink...but one cannot be concerned with that when in a desperate situation...

After the emperor finished laughing, he scrutinized her for a bit and then said, "If it is a draw then we'll call it your win."

Lei Xing's restrained herself from smiling widely like an idiot and tried to maintain a straight face and nodded, "That is great judgment."

...I feel like such an idiot right now, feeling both happy and ashamed T_T)...

The emperor looked at her and smiled and then held his hand for an arrow, "I will go first then."

"Ah No, I'll go first." Lei Xing stepped forward with a smile, he raised his eyebrows at her and then passed her the bow.

...I don't need to see a pro in action...it'll just make me nervous...

Ah Jin walked up with Lei Xing to the front with arrows and Lei Xing took one and got in position, pulled back and fired. It plopped to the ground and didn't even go halfway to the target.

...It's okay, that was beginner's luck...I mean beginner's pitfall...there's still 9 left...

She took aim again, when she heard the emperor's voice from the side, "Your posture's wrong." She glanced to the side and saw he had walked to the front as well, she straightened up a bit more and then fired.

Fail.

Next: Fail. Fail.

She took aim again. The emperor spoke up again, "Your arm should be higher." Lei Xing frowned a bit annoyed but she still adjusted her arm.

Fail. Fail. Fail.

Fail.

Lei Xing took a deep breath, her situation was looking grim, not to mention her arm was really hurting.

...This is really not easy T_T)...Suck it up! We have to win this!...

She rolled her shoulder a bit and took another arrow and took aim and fired.

Fail. At least it looked like it made some progress and went farther

She took a deep breath and took another arrow and took aim. Then the emperor said from the side again, "Do you want me to help you?"

Lei Xing kept her eyes forward and said, "It's a fair competition."

"Fair? It really is." He said laughing again. Lei Xing frowned and ignored him, concentrated on the target and released.

The arrow plunged to the ground with momentum.

Lei Xing let out a breath, rolled her shoulder again. Took her last arrow, glanced to the side and saw the emperor smiling at her. She ignored him and looked forward, focusing on the target.

...Okay, last one...last one's the charm...we can do this...Arrow you must make it, I have faith in you...

Lei Xing took a deep breath, closed her eyes and exhaled. Opened her eyes and took aim, pulled back the arrow with all her strength ignoring the burning pain in her arm and released.

Fail. It went far, but not far enough.

Lei Xing closed her eyes and hung her head. The emperor came up to her and took the bow with a smile ushering her to the side, "My turn."

As expected he hit all bullseyes. Splitting them up across the five targets. Lei Xing glanced to the side.

...Showoff...

When he finished, he smiled at lei Xing, who couldn't even muster up a fake smile at the moment, "It was a good game, you have potential."

Lei Xing rolled her eyes in her mind.

...Potential my a** -_-)...

She mustered up a small obvious fake smile, "Good to know."

The emperor snorted, "I mean it, you have good hand and eye coordination, but lack strength. Strength can be acquired but good coordination may not."

Lei Xing was a tiny bit happy with the praise but her unhappy loss could not be surmounted by anything right now, so she was still in a sour mood.

"So I won. What I want..." The emperor said, drawing out his words.

Lei Xing looked at him suspiciously and quickly interjected, "It has to be within moral reasoning...and upright."

The emperor smirked, "I don't recall those terms being part of the agreement..." and took a step towards her.

Lei Xing took a step back and said, "They were implied..." and looked at him with a guarded expression.

The emperor saw her expression and laughed, "You siblings are too easy. If you can play the game, you have to be prepared to accept your loss."

Lei Xing frowned, "Of course I know that..."

"Good..." The emperor nodded.

Lei Xing interjected again before he could continue, "...but as reasonable people, we have to operate from a basis of morality."

The emperor raised an eyebrow at her and smirked, "I assure you it is also considered highly moral...what I want..." Then he looked off at the targets seemingly in "deep" thought, "...what I want..."

Lei Xing frowned.

...Get to the point a**h**e -_-)'...

He looked back at Lei Xing and smiled, "What I want is...I haven't thought about it yet, when I think of something I will send for you." Then he shoved the bow in her hands and walked off with his retinue.

Lei Xing glared at his back.

...I really ended up playing right into this a**h**e's hands...Ahhh, this is definitely going to be troublesome T_T)...

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About the author

MiraiSaesang

Bio: An avid reader of Novels, my most recent genre of obsession is with Chinese novels...and got so into them that I'm translating them now😅😅...Oh and I also started writing my own novel, "Circumventing Fate"🙈...it's an evolutionary process👩‍💻LOL

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