Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Three generations had produced four famed Great Generals! In the Qin Empire, only the Great Qin's Wang Clan, with Wang Jian, Wang Li, and Wang Ben, could compare.
This was a true great clan of generals.
The members of this clan were trained from childhood in preparation for when they stepped onto the battlefield. In their teens, they were already out on campaign, risking their life in battle. This greatly differed from the practices of any other dynasty that followed.
Meng Wu was the father of Meng Tian and Meng Yi, two Great Generals, and he himself was an extremely senior Great General. That he had been able to raise the Meng brothers was proof of his strength.
"Great General Meng Wu! If I remember correctly, he died in the twenty-seventh year of the Qin First Emperor's reign. Why is he here, in the Celestial Palace?" Li Xuantu sternly asked, his brow furrowing as he looked at that giant figure.
Li Xuantu had also once led armies into battle, and just like Wang Chong, he was extremely familiar with the history of the Qin Dynasty. Great General Meng Wu's most famous campaign was when he joined with Great General Wang Jian and defeated the famed general and powerful foe of the Qin, Xiang Yan. This had allowed the Great Qin to conquer the state of Chu, serving as a pivotal battle in the path to uniting the entire realm.
But everyone knew that Meng Wu had died before the death of the Qin First Emperor, and his two sons had completely inherited his light. No one had expected one of the ten famous generals of the Qin Empire to appear here.
All was quiet, none of the three speaking.
The Celestial Palace was becoming more and more inexplicable.
"That's not for certain," Wang Chong said after some thought. "According to the records, Great General Meng Wu died in the twenty-seventh year of the First Emperor's reign, and a year later, the First Emperor died. This period of time is very worthy of discussion."
Li Xuantu suddenly recalled Flying Cavalry Great General Huo Qubing and Emperor Wu of Han.
Wang Chong nodded. The historical records were true, but they did not record the entire truth. In the end, the Grand Scribes were just ordinary people, and they could only record what they saw and heard. In addition, they could not completely prevent the interference of sovereigns.
"The Meng Clan had a force of heavy soldiers that was famed throughout the world. If my guess is right, these black-armored Qin Guards were probably those soldiers, and the ones standing around him are the leaders of this force!" Wang Chong said, his gaze passing over those six stalwart and determined figures standing in front of Meng Wu, respect in his heart.
This was a true general who had lived for battle and died in battle. There was no concept of a hedonistic scion trying to avoid work and indulge in pleasure. For them, war was both duty and destiny.
A true soldier!
As these thoughts ran through his mind, Wang Chong took in a deep breath, and another idea soon occupied his mind.
After the First Emperor united the realm, Meng Wu gradually withdrew from the stage, particularly since Meng Yi and Meng Tian were so talented, quickly rising through the ranks and becoming Great Generals for the Qin Empire. They had taken over Meng Wu's place in the empire, reducing the need for him to appear.
In the later part of his life, Meng Wu completely withdrew, essentially retiring from military life.
The Qin Dynasty's Grand Scribes naturally wouldn't pay much attention to a retired Great General, and unless there was some special event, a top-class Great General like Meng Wu would never be mobilized, let alone leave the capital.
More importantly, everyone knew that the Meng Clan had the important duty of protecting the Emperor. If Great General Meng Wu appeared here, it could only mean…
Wang Chong looked past Meng Wu, a vague thought occurring to him.
Wang Chong strode past the six imposing figures, and Li Xuantu understood and followed.
Deeper into the third region, Wang Chong saw the figure that Meng Wu and these powerful Qin generals were protecting.
This man wore a tasseled crown and a black dragon robe, and had a thick beard. Even after one thousand years, Wang Chong could still feel his domineering and frightening aura. Even veteran generals who had been through one hundred battles would instinctively tremble in fear before this man.
This was a born sovereign, an Emperor amongst Emperors.
He had not reigned for very long, but his reputation would forever resound through all dimensions. None of the sovereigns who came after him, not even the ambitious and talented Emperor Wu of Han, could ever surpass his reputation.
Moreover, when they saw this figure, they instantly understood what that pressure they had felt upon stepping into this region originated from.
The Qin First Emperor!
This name immediately appeared in Wang Chong's mind.
Though he had yet to walk over or see anything that could identify this man, Wang Chong immediately knew that this was the man who Great General Meng Wu had sworn to protect with his life, that this domineering figure was the first true Emperor in the history of the Central Plains.
Before the Great Qin, many people had called themselves Kings, but they had only begun to call themselves Emperors from the time of the First Emperor. It was only with him that the concept of an empire took hold in the Central Plains.
Not only that, he could see that this ancient sovereign had probably been much stronger than commonly understood. From the remnant energy on his body, Wang Chong could tell that his cultivation was probably far above Flying Cavalry Great General Huo Qubing's.
No one beneath the Divine Martial realm could oppose him!
As this thought occurred to him, Wang Chong couldn't help but be moved.
"The Qin First Emperor! It's actually the First Qin Emperor! 'The First Emperor will die and the land will splinter!' Back then, a meteor descended to the earth with these words carved into it. After this, the Qin First Emperor toured the east five times and died when returning from Mount Tai. Because his corpse was rotting, the traitorous eunuch official Zhao Gao stuffed rotten fish into the coffin. After his death, the Great Qin passed into the hands of Second Emperor Huhai and splintered apart. He really did die, and his land splintered!
"After the First Emperor's death, he was placed in his mausoleum at Mount Li, and all the procedures were in line with imperial standards, with nothing out of the ordinary. So why is the Qin First Emperor's real body here?"
Li Xuantu stood next to Wang Chong, just as shocked.
The Qin First Emperor had spent the majority of his life on the battlefield, and this ancestor of other Emperors was far more interested in war than those that followed. This was precisely why his presence in the Celestial Palace was so surprising.
"Reality overcomes even the strongest argument. No matter what the histories say, there is no doubt that this is the First Emperor!" Wang Chong sternly said.
"If this is true, it means that what came back with Zhao Gao from the east was an empty coffin. That man was truly audacious!" Li Xuantu sternly said.
Whether it was Emperors or Princes, what they loathed the most were eunuch officials attempting to gain power for themselves. Zhao Gao was a traitorous eunuch official infamous for the 'calling a deer a horse' incident, and he had been reviled by all future Emperors. If the First Emperor had not been dead yet, then Zhao Gao's actions were even more audacious than they had seemed.
"Zhao Gao was the First Emperor's close aide and had served him for several decades. He must have waited for the First Emperor to return from the Celestial Palace for a very long time, and only when he was sure that the First Emperor couldn't come back did he become so bold," Wang Chong said.
As they looked at this sovereign, the many events concerning the fall of the Great Qin Empire more than one thousand years ago emerged in their minds, and the truth began to reveal itself.
"But he only needed to pretend that the First Emperor was dead and then find a corpse. Why the need for rotten fish?" Li Xuantu said.
"That was one of the smart things he did. If Zhao Gao had just found a random corpse, the corpse would have certainly been inspected upon his return to Xianyang. His scheme might have been able to fool others, but he wouldn't be able to deceive the First Emperor's close relatives. However, by stuffing rotting fish into the coffin, he could prevent those people from inspecting the corpse. In addition, even if those people did inspect the corpse, they wouldn't be able to inspect it too closely. Most importantly, whether or not these people believed that the Qin First Emperor's corpse was in the coffin, Zhao Gao could use this reason to reject their requests to open the coffin. This is why, despite all the numerous methods he had to disguise the stench, he used this one," Wang Chong said.
Flowers or incense could all be used to disguise an odor, but fish had a foul odor, and using fish to cover the scent of a corpse was undoubtedly an inferior choice. But now, it seemed like there was much to discuss about Zhao Gao's decision.
Li Xuantu's brow furrowed as he asked, "What in the world happened back then? Why was it that Zhao Gao and the Qin First Emperor headed off to the east together, but only Zhao Gao returned while the First Emperor appeared in the Celestial Palace? What is the Qin First Emperor's connection to the Celestial Palace?"
These matters were truly baffling. Li Xuantu felt like there was a large gap between the fifth tour of the east and the appearance in the Celestial Palace—one he could not explain.
Wang Chong also considered this question, but a moment later, as his gaze passed over the Qin First Emperor's body, he noticed a figure in front of him and walked over.
This was a headless corpse, and unlike the others, he was half-kneeling on the ground like some criminal. He did not wear armor, but a black Daoist robe. He appeared to be an alchemist of the Qin Dynasty.
There was nothing above his neck as he bowed before the Qin First Emperor, and his head had fallen several steps away.
"Master, he has a bamboo scroll in his hand," Little Nightmare said. While Wang Chong had been inspecting the alchemist, Little Nightmare had noticed something in his hand.
The kneeling man tightly gripped a bamboo scroll in his right hand.
Wang Chong reached out, pulling the bamboo scroll into his hand.
'The subject Xu Fu requests His Majesty the First Emperor…'
The first line on the scroll, written in the small seal script of the Qin Dynasty, left both Wang Chong and Li Xuantu astonished.
This black-robed Daoist was the one who had led three thousand boys and girls and set out into the ocean to seek out the three great immortal mountains.
(TN: In the later years of his life, the Qin First Emperor grew obsessed with seeking immortality. Xu Fu, who was a court sorcerer, was entrusted with seeking out Mount Penglai, where immortals were said to dwell, and obtaining the elixir of immortality. For this journey, he was given sixty boats, many soldiers and sailors, and three thousand each of boys and girls. He did not return from this journey.)
"The ancient records said that after receiving a great deal of funding from the First Emperor, Xu Fu vanished without a trace. But it appears now that not only did Xu Fu return, he also brought back a great deal of information," Li Xuantu said in shock.