Liu Shan Men and the Three Departments - Centre of the Hall
"Your Majesty, Liu Shan Men's Ming Feizhen has arrived!"
"Your Majesty, your subject is coming!" I cried as I rushed in. I was so lucky I made it in t-
"You're late!" exclaimed a pretty and charming maiden, as she slapped me on my head!
'Eh? This sort of girl gets to be here?'
She wore a blue warriors robe; she was dressed identically to Su Xiao. Her melon-shaped face, snow-white skin, tall and straight nose, eyelashes and sparkly eyes were the same as Su Xiao's…
'Wait, it is Su Xiao! Why do I still mistake you for a girl despite knowing you for so long?! Also, how dare you smack me on my head!'
Su Xiao thundered, "Big Brother Ming, you big idiot! You're late again! Why are you always late?!"
"I wasn't late on purpose!" I exclaimed whilst internally saying, "You think I deliberately slept in?!"
Man, I screwed up bad. Back when Boss was around, she only reproached me for sleeping in and being late for meetings before letting me off the hook. I didn't expect to have to see His Majesty often while she was out. I had to make the long trip to sign in. It was so troublesome I wanted to curse!
The atmosphere in the hall was quite weird. I didn't understand why there were only several secretaries, the prime minister and the Emperor, who just glared at me. Eventually, the Emperor ordered, "Ming Feizhen, step forward to speak."
"Right away, right away! Your Subject is here."
I took a few steps forward. I glanced over to Tang Ye as I passed him, hoping he'd use Voice Transmission to explain to me what happened. He wore a straight face, but it looked as though he ate shit for breakfast…
"Did something happen while I was on my way here?" I wondered. I saluted the Emperor: "Your subject, Ming Feizhen, greets you, Your Majesty. Long live, Your Majesty."
The Emperor rested his chin in one hand. Wearing a lifeless expression, he contemptuously responded to my greeting: "Enough, enough, don't waste my time with those fake pleasantries. If you genuinely respect me, stop being late!"
"Ugh. Your subject was not actually late. He was lost. The imperial palace is too large. Your subject lost his way. As such… please forgive him, Your Majesty."
"Please!" the Emperor exclaimed, with a wave of his hand. "I know you by now; you can't be trusted. I don't know why Yiren would choose you to represent Liu Shan Men. Anyway, I called you three here for something important."
"May your subject ask what that might be?"
The Emperor sat square and swept his gaze over us. When he spoke, he sounded as though he was recalling a cherished memory at the same time: "Your superior, Vice-Captain Shen, is a descendant of an illustrious clan. Her ancestors were dedicated and commendable individuals who rendered outstanding service. Her father was my sworn brother. He was one of the nation's heroes who dedicated every fibre of his being to it. For that reason, I have also regarded Vice-Captain Shen as my own daughter. We are all on the same side, so I shall not withhold information. I once wanted to instate her as a Princess; but alas, she rejected the offer for Liu Shan Men. She has dedicated her life to Liu Shan Men."
Switching to a serious expression, the Emperor carried on: "Liu Shan Men has been one of offices the imperial court has relied on heavily ever since the dynasty's inception. Due to someone's mistake back then, however, I gave them the cold shoulder…"
'Uh… Your Majesty, how come I heard you demoted Yan Shisan to a toilet hygiene technician when he caught you at a brothel?'
"Fortunately, Vice-Captain Shen has gradually revived Liu Shan Men's glory under her leadership. Although Liu Shan Men still pales in comparison to my entourage and the Qilin Guards, you have your strengths. Your members are young thanks to you joining. Your office now has the youngest members among the three. You are energetic and passionate; neither of the other two offices can match you in that aspect. I saw your futures after your contributions in the Emperor Chengkong Incident and Jin Wangsun's betrayal. You all have great potential. After careful deliberation, I have decided to give you a hand for the imperial court, Yiren and Liu Shan Men."
I returned to reality after listening for a long, long time.
"May your subject ask what insight you have, Your Majesty?'
The Emperor smiled: "You know what you three lack most?"
"Uh… What would that be?" The Emperor watched me think. I quickly figured out the answer: "Experience, connections and status?"
"…" The Emperor spent a moment hesitating. Unhappy that I figured it out, he stated, "Mm… precisely. In short, you need those three things… Thus, I have passed down an order to have the six ministries' leaders and prime minister take you in as students. They will help you network, learn rules and accumulate experience."
"Oh," I responded with a nod. "That is a beneficial. The secretaries are the era's heroes. It would be an honour and beneficial to learn under them. Thank you for the kind offer, Your Majesty."
Although I didn't really know any of the six, I doubt anybody besides Boss Shen would scold her superiors. If the Emperor was planning something else, I was keen to find out what it was. If I could learn how to make a tool to rapidly boil braised pork shoulders in soy sauce from the ministry of works, woo!
'Wait, have Tang Ye and Su Xiao already had their teachers arranged?'
As though he read my mind, the Emperor said, "You are the only one who has not met his teacher. They already know who their teacher is."
I glanced over to Tang Ye. He glanced over to a scholar.
'Isn't that the Ministry of Personnel's Secretary Zhang? No wonder why Tang Ye looks as if he ate shit!'
According to what I heard, Secretary Zhang was strict with formalities and rules. That was why everyone under him even walked with a certain gait.
Su Xiao pointed to a middle-aged man. I couldn't see anything spectacular about him. He seemed to be an energetic man, though. If my memory does me justice, he was the ministry of justice's Secretary Leng…
'Wait, you're sending Su Xiao, who is publically known for missing a part of his brain, to the ministry of justice?! Your Majesty, your reign's incorrectly-judged-cases count is going to take the top spot in history.'
'So… who's my teacher?'
"Your Majesty, my teach-…"
The Emperor cut me off: "I don't have any opinion. You may choose any among them, though they might not be free…"
'In other words, you don't care if I have one, right?! What happened to my boundless future?!'
"Despite my plans, things did not turn out ideally," stated the Emperor, waving with a nonchalant look. "One elder asked to take you in. I thought it was a very rare opportunity for you, so I agreed on your behalf."
"Oh, may your subject ask who his teacher will b-"
"Present," declared a statue that came to life. He wore an honest smile. I, on the other hand, saw the eyes of a challenger, and an ominous feeling gripped me. He said, "Yes, it is this old one. Young Ming, I have discussed your recruitment. Let's look out for each other."
There was no need for a comprehensive introduction. It was Prime Minister Li Si! He admitted to not being as erudite in cuisine only to then turn around and set me up into footing the bill! The old geezer was more shady and sly than the unorthodox sects!
'You're telling me he volunteered? Let me check if there's an elephant climbing a tree right now; he's definitely looking to get back at me!!'
"All right, since you three all have your teachers now, I shall proceed with the rules," said the Emperor, sitting up straight and wearing on a stern expression. "I am giving you three a chance to improve yourselves with your teachers' assistance. Besides learning from them, you need to improve by yourself, as well. I have three cases here. Once you reach your departments, you need to help your teacher solve the cases. You will not be permitted to return to Liu Shan Men until you have solved your case!"
'Eh? No returning to Liu Shan Men?'
Both Su Xiao and I were stunned.
'How are we supposed to solve the cases from there?!'