Chapter 1 Chip
As dawn approached, the glazed tiles of the Imperial Palace shimmered with a glistening sheen from the morning dew.
Inside the Taihe Hall, officials stood in perfect rows, their nerves on edge as they awaited the Emperor’s arrival. Just as the tension began to peak, the eunuch’s shrill voice cut through the stillness, heralding the Emperor’s delayed entrance.
“His Majesty has arrived!”
The ministers quickly straightened their postures and bowed their heads in respect. As of late, His Majesty had grown more volatile, often exploding in fits of rage over trivial matters and punishing officials by demoting or executing them. Those who still stood before him today were all cautious and careful in their words and deeds.
Shortly after the eunuch’s announcement, the Emperor emerged from the back hall and sat upon his ornate throne. However, he did not speak a word and instead appeared to be waiting for something.
The ministers were slightly puzzled. Normally, His Majesty would ask a few casual questions before impatiently handing over the government affairs to the Prime Minister and the Grand Marshal. Why was he silent today?
A hush fell over the hall.
The Prime Minister coughed lightly, prompting the imperial servant to ask, “Are there any issues to be addressed?”
Sensing that something was amiss in today’s morning court, the ministers remained silent, being cautious as they knew that they rarely had the chance to speak out during such meetings.
When no one answered, the Emperor on the high throne above the platform said, “Then let’s dismiss.”
Different from his customary cold and steady voice, some discerning ministers perceived a trace of apprehension in the Emperor’s voice today, accompanied by a slight quiver in his speech.
When a daring minister withdrew from Taihe Hall, he couldn’t help sneaking a glance at the Emperor sitting on the throne.
Ascending the throne as a mere youth, Emperor Jingchang had barely even come of age. With sharp and striking features, he possessed a considerable degree of physical attractiveness. He was wearing a large black-bottomed imperial robe with a gilt cloud-pattern, which further enhanced his already notable charisma. At this moment, His Majesty was propped up against the black and gold dragon-patterned throne, his hand resting on his forehead with fingers partly covering his eyes, presenting a picture of vulnerability.
Unfortunately, such a beautiful appearance conceals a cruel, incompetent, and hedonistic character….
Realizing that his thoughts were somewhat blasphemous, the minister quickly suppressed them and lowered his eyes, hastening his steps to follow behind his departing colleagues.
As all the officials in the hall left, Li Jinyu let out a sigh of relief and relaxed his ramrod spine.
However, he couldn’t let his guard down yet. There were still so many humans around!
Glancing at the servants standing respectfully beside him, Li Jinyu gathered his courage and forced himself to maintain his composure.
“Let’s go back.”
The eunuchs, who had all witnessed Emperor Jingchang’s tyrannical side, naturally did not dare to dawdle. They quickly arranged the imperial carriage and escorted the Emperor back to his sleeping quarters. Waving his hand to dismiss all the palace attendants, the last eunuch to retreat Rongguang Hall closed the doors, leaving him alone in the vast and empty room, which suddenly became eerily silent.
Li Jinyu let out a long sigh of relief and walked up to the dragon bed, throwing himself onto it and letting out a comfortable sigh.
Playing the role of a tyrannical Emperor was too difficult for him, a little hamster. Lying on the bed, Li Jinyu wished he could just bury himself for the rest of his life.
It felt strange not having a tail.
Li Jinyu was originally a pet hamster who lived a happy life munching on nuts under the care of his owner every day. Somehow, he unexpectedly developed spiritual awareness and became a spiritual being.
At first, Li Jinyu didn’t think that gaining spiritual awareness would have a significant impact on his existence, but he did not expect to face a Heavenly Tribulation after becoming a spiritual being.
As a hamster who was fixated on eating, drinking, playing, and sleeping, and had never seriously practiced cultivation, Li Jinyu was unsurprisingly shattered to pieces by the Heavenly Tribulation.
When he regained consciousness, he found himself in a different realm, transmigrated into an Emperor. Accustomed to crawling around on four paws, Li Jinyu found it especially awkward to walk on two feet. But more importantly, the identity he assumed was that of a villainous tyrant in a novel.
As a domesticated rodent, he often lounge on the sofa armrest, munching on peanuts and poring over novels alongside his owner. Recently, he had been engrossed in a story where Emperor Jingchang played the role of a principal villain. Upon his ascension to the throne, this young Emperor only indulged in pleasure and was cruel and merciless, depleting the national treasury to build palaces and towers, wine pools and meat forests. He frequently executed palace attendants and even officials, refusing to listen to the advices of his birth mother, the Empress Dowager.
The only thing preventing the collapse of the Di Dynasty under his rule were the two pillars of civil and military support within his court. In the original plot, Emperor Jingchang had been levying heavy taxes for ten years, causing turmoil in the court and instability in the border regions. His lavish lifestyle fueled by alcohol and debauchery, along with his penchant for forced confiscation and plundering, resulted in widespread hatred and discontent among the populace, which echoed throughout the land.
Meanwhile, the elder sister of the main protagonist Huo Caiyu, was forcibly taken into the imperial harem by Emperor Jingchang, and soon died after being tortured.
With the people’s resentment towards the tyrannical Emperor, Huo Caiyu led a rebellion to overthrow him, claimed the throne, and restored order to the regime.
As for the tyrant Emperor, his end was naturally extremely miserable.
After learning that he was the Emperor Jingchang of the Di Dynasty, Li Jinyu was completely stunned.
Hoohoo, he only wanted to be an ordinary hamster, not a tyrant!
Li Jinyu’s initial instinct was to revert back to his hamster form and escape. Whether he was a tyrant or a foolish Emperor, it was better to flee the imperial palace.
However, Li Jinyu soon realized that his body would become stiff and unresponsive whenever he thought about escaping, preventing him from turning back into his hamster form, as if something was restraining him.
Li Jinyu’s spiritual transformation brought with it a newfound understanding of the Heavenly Dao.
He realized immediately that he was meant to fulfill the role of the tyrant Emperor and that he was not permitted to flee or reveal his true intentions.
That night, Li Jinyu huddled in fear under the dragon-patterned bedding. Torn between his thoughts until the sun rose, the palace attendants came in to help the Emperor get dressed for the morning court.
Li Jinyu then gathered up his courage and thought to himself that it didn’t matter—— since he had become a spiritual being, he would inevitably transform into a human anyway, so just treat it as experiencing the different aspects of life a bit earlier.
Due to his lack of memories from the original Emperor, Li Jinyu had to rely on what little he had read in the novel to play the role of the Emperor. Luckily, Emperor Jingchang’s unpredictable and authoritative nature made it easier for Li Jinyu to avoid suspicion from others.
However, after attending the morning court, all the courage he had gathered vanished in an instant.
There were so many people in the grand hall! It was an overwhelming crowd!
Li Jinyu was timid and shy by nature. Even though he had become a spiritual entity, his courage had only grown from the size of a sesame seed to that of a rice grain. Sitting on the throne was physically uncomfortable.
If he had to face this situation all the time, how could he bear it? Feeling dejected, Li Jinyu suddenly heard the trembling voice of a eunuch outside the door, asking if he wanted the breakfast to be delivered now.
Li Jinyu remained still for a moment, then his eyes suddenly lit up.
Ah, he hadn’t eaten yet!
He recalled from the novel that breakfast were usually served after the morning court sessions in Di Dynasty, but he had been so anxious about maintaining his disguise that he had completely forgotten about it!
While Emperor Jingchang had little interest in the affairs of state, he had a strong inclination towards indulging in worldly pleasures. The refined and exquisite breakfast was beyond Li Jinyu’s imagination, both in terms of its mouth-watering aroma and pleasing appearance.
Li Jinyu swallowed slightly, and straightened his back, dismissing the eunuchs, “I… Zhen doesn’t need you. Retreat.”
The eunuch who was about to pick up the jade chopsticks to serve the dishes froze for a moment, and looked at the Emperor with a hint of panic. His face turned slightly pale. The Emperor’s temper was unpredictable. In the past, there were eunuchs who had somehow angered His Majesty and were similarly scolded and dismissed. They were taken away by the guards that day and lost their lives on the spot… Could it be that His Majesty was dissatisfied with his service today?
The young eunuch’s hands were almost trembling as he put down the chopsticks and knelt down, his forehead touching the marble floor as he repeatedly kowtowed while begging for forgiveness in a quivering voice, “Your Majesty, spare this slave! Your Majesty, spare this slave!”
A few eunuchs knelt down together in a flurry. Startled, Li Jinyu quickly retreated and shrank back onto the dragon bed, almost stuttering in shock, “Wh-what are you doing?”
Fortunately, the servants were in panic and did not hear anything unusual.
Li Jinyu felt uneasy seeing the young eunuch, who appeared to be under fifteen years old, kowtowing with an audible “dong dong” sound. Slightly easing his tension, he bravely spoke, “Zhen is not blaming you. You can all go wait outside.”
The young eunuch thought he was going to end up like those dead predecessors, but he was lucky enough to have his life spared this time. His head snapped up in surprise, his forehead was red, and tears were streaming down his face as he repeatedly expressed his gratitude, “Many thanks, Your Majesty! Many thanks, Your Majesty!”
The servants didn’t dare to say more, for fear of angering His Majesty again. They respectfully stood up, bowed, and backed out. Li Jinyu watched the last person leave, and felt a little strange. Why did these humans seem to be more timid than him, a tiny hamster?
But the aroma of the food in front of him quickly caught his attention. He couldn’t wait to pick up the jade chopsticks next to him and awkwardly learn how his former master used chopsticks. After fiddling with them for a while and failing to pick up the shrimp in the blue-and-white porcelain bowl, Li Jinyu angrily threw down the chopsticks and picked up the white porcelain ladle to scoop the soup.
A delicious palace breakfast calmed down Li Jinyu’s anxiety. If every meal was this ultimate enjoyment, it seemed that playing as a human was not so unacceptable…
Li Jinyu closed his eyes in happiness as he nibbled on the crispy pastry served as a dessert after the meal. It was a pity that he couldn’t store more of this delicious snack in his cheek pouches since he was in his human form.
Li Jinyu ate vigorously until his stomach was full, and then reluctantly watched as the remaining food was taken away. It went against his hamster nature to waste such delicious foods.
After calming down, he began to ponder about his future. Since Heavenly Dao wouldn’t let him escape, he could only continue to play the role of the tyrant Emperor Jingchang if he wished to survive.
Judging from his perception of Heavenly Dao, if he were able to complete the storyline of the tyrant in the original plot he could then freely transform back into a spiritual hamster. In the original plot, Emperor Jingchang died at the hands of the main protagonist, Huo Caiyu. Although Li Jinyu was currently restricted in a human body, he still had some magical powers left. These human beings didn’t understand magic, so it shouldn’t be a problem to fake his death and escape. In this way, he could just hide in the palace, indulge in food and drink every day, and wait for the protagonist to rebel!
It sounds like there’s not much difference from being kept as a pet!
Relieved, Li Jinyu comfortably swallowed the last bite of pastry and sipped some warm tribute tea. Taking a deep breath to muster courage, he ordered the servants to come in and collect the leftovers. After a few servants had finished cleaning up, Li Jinyu pretended to casually ask, “I…Zhen wants to know, is there someone named Huo Caiyu here?”
It was crucial to confirm the current stage of the plot. He hoped to quickly reach the end of the story!
The eunuchs trembled, and a hint of fear they tried to suppress appeared on their faces.
The Emperor’s question must be answered. A eunuch bowed respectfully and said, “Your Majesty, rest assured. Huo Caiyu has committed a great crime by disrespecting Your Majesty’s grace. He has been punished and sent to the inner prison according to Your Majesty’s instructions. He will surely not survive the night.”
Li Jinyu’s hand trembled, the teacup almost falling from his grasp.
What was going on?
He ordered to kill the protagonist?!
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