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    Chapter 63: Death to Sodomites!

    The embroidered threads, adorned with pearls, and the delicate gauze created an illusion of a dreamy spring romance when draped over someone's face.

    Yet, there was only a dress, not a person.

    Ye Jiangbai realized that his thoughts were problematic. He seemed to have subconsciously treated Zhao Changnian as a woman, despite knowing full well that he was a man, a man he couldn't get close to. How could he instinctively claim her just because they had a moment of intimacy?

    It was good for her to go to the Beitang Mansion. What was wrong with it? Pulling Beitang Miao down would only muddy the waters, making it easier to catch fish in the chaos. So what if she stayed there? It was just a change of bed to sleep on.

    Nonetheless, an image of Beitang Miao's eyes flashed across his mind, filled with the territorial aggression of a beast when looking at him.

    Ye Jiangbai narrowed his eyes in displeasure. That person claimed Zhao Changnian as his, but on what grounds? Did he think that simply because he wanted her, she was his?

    Frustrated, he stood up and took two steps towards the screen.

    But halfway there, he paused.

    Ye Jiangbai rubbed his forehead and muttered to himself, "What a ridiculous notion. Wouldn't this make it seem like I'm jealous over a man?"

    What he favours is the company of women, not same-sex affection!

    Turning back to the cushioned bench, he softened his expression and calmly instructed, "Liang Ce, prepare to extinguish the lights."

    Liang Ce entered from beyond the screen, concern etched on his face. "Milady, it's time for your evening meal."

    Fuming with anger, who still has an appetite for dinner? Ye Jiangbai wanted to say this, but upon second thought, he realized it wasn't appropriate. He immediately composed himself and said, "It's fine to skip a meal; it can cleanse the digestive system."

    With a resigned sigh, Liang Ce reluctantly agreed. He helped the man change and watched him settle onto the bed before extinguishing the lights.

    Lying in bed beneath the dark canopy, Ye Jiangbai thought to himself with pride, See, I don't care about her. If she goes elsewhere, I can still sleep soundly!

    Yet, no matter how he tossed and turned, he couldn't fall asleep.

    As he watched the daylight gradually fill the room, he glared at the black canopy above him and angrily resolved that if he couldn't sleep, neither could anyone else!

    On the fifth day of the New Year, the emperor summoned several ministers and Chang Nian to his study to discuss the plans for their training. However, as soon as the emperor mentioned the Patrol Camp, Ye Jiangbai stood up from the side.

    "Your Majesty," he said, "Princess Seventh is frail and her martial skills are mediocre. Assigning her directly to the Patrol Camp might not be an effective form of training and could even undermine her authority. In my opinion, it would be better to choose the City Guard."

    Standing nearby, Chang Nian clenched her hands upon hearing this.

    The Emperor was somewhat taken aback. Recently, the Duke of State had been particularly close to Nian'er. He had assumed that, under any circumstances, the duke would not object. Yet, to his surprise, he was the first to voice his opposition.

    "As far as I know, Nian'er is also practicing martial arts." The emperor said, "He has some basic skills."

    Ye Jiangbai smiled subtly. "Your Majesty is more than welcome to give it a try."

    "Oh?" The emperor looked at Chang Nian. "How do we test this?"

    "Today, I entered the palace accompanied by a guest for protection. This guest is skilled in martial arts, but he is not allowed to enter the Chongyang Gate. Your Majesty, you may summon him to engage in a sparring match with His Highness," Ye Liang said.

    The emperor glanced at Ye Jiangbai and pondered for a moment before responding, "Summon him."

    Unsurprisingly, Zhao Changnian witnessed Ye Liang entering with the grand eunuch to pay his respects.

    With a laugh of frustration, Changnian looked at Ye Jiangbai.

    Not only was this man determined to prevent her from going, but he also wanted to make her lose face in front of her father.

    What grudge, what enmity? Was it necessary for him to humiliate her so over something that could have been settled with mere words?

    Feeling the gaze from beside him, Ye Jiangbai didn't look back. Instead, he maintained a benevolent smile as he addressed the emperor, "This person is a slightly skilled martial artist, a guest in my humble residence. Previously, he attempted to join the patrol division but failed the examination."

    With such a level of skill, it wasn't exactly bullying the Seventh Prince. The emperor nodded, thinking that the Duke should spare some face for Chang Nian.

    However, when the two stepped onto the open ground outside the grand hall, Ye Liang effortlessly pinned Chang Nian to the ground after just three moves, rendering her immobile.

    Chang Nian's small face flushed red, yet she didn't beg for mercy. Struggling to free herself from Ye Liang's grip, she was ultimately hindered by the inherent strength difference between men and women. Despite using all her might, she couldn't escape from Ye Liang's grasp.

    The emperor's expression darkened upon witnessing this.

    Ye Jiangbai sighed, "It can't be helped, Your Highness. You're diligent, but your physique is indeed too weak."

    "Indeed," the emperor replied solemnly. "She was born premature, hence her frailty compared to others."

    Chang Nian's eyes reddened upon hearing this. Summoning a sudden burst of strength, she managed to push Ye Liang back by half an inch.

    Ye Liang was momentarily taken aback. Realizing her anger, he felt rather embarrassed. However, with his master's order, he still had to press her back down to the ground.

    The outcome was decided.

    The emperor sighed, feeling a loss of face. He waved his hand and said, "Your concerns are valid. So then..."

    "Your Majesty," Beitang Miao, who had been silent until now, spoke up.

    The emperor turned his head and asked, "What is it, Minister Beitang?"

    "This person." Beitang Miao pointed at Ye Liang and continued, "I wish to test him."

    "Hmm..." The emperor saw no need for it. After all, Ye Liang was just a guest. Why test him?

    But Beitang Miao argued, "I have recently taken charge of the Patrol Camp and am not yet fully acquainted with its standards. This man has decent martial skills but failed the examination to become a minor guard. I am very curious about his true abilities."

    This made sense. The emperor pondered for a moment before nodding. "Very well, Minister, you may give it a try."

    There was nothing else to do anyway, so watching the spectacle would be entertaining.

    Ye Liang released Chang Nian, looking somewhat unsure as he glanced at Ye Jiangbai.

    Ye Jiangbai's expression was cold and indifferent as he glanced sidelong at Beitang Miao, who went to help Chang Nian up. His lips moved soundlessly, conveying to Ye Liang, "Attack."

    With this order, Ye Liang held nothing back, assuming a fighting stance and looking directly at Beitang Miao.

    "Stand back," Beitang Miao removed his cloak, handing it to Chang Nian before turning his head and casting a sharp gaze across the room.

    Ye Liang was slightly taken aback by the intensity of Beitang Miao's gaze, showing a moment of hesitation. Seizing the opportunity, Beitang Miao swiftly struck, exploiting Ye Liang's distraction to gain the upper hand.

    The contest between these skilled fighters was a stark contrast to the one-sided domination just moments ago. The emperor had yet to react when the two had already exchanged twenty moves.

    "Remarkable!" exclaimed the emperor in admiration. "I knew Minister Beitang was skilled, but I didn't expect this guest of yours to be able to hold his own against him."

    Ye Jiangbai smiled, casually casting a glance at Chang Nian beside him.

    She stood there, holding onto Beitang Miao's cloak in a daze, her eyes filled with concern as she watched the fight. Whenever Beitang Miao was at a disadvantage, her entire body tensed up.

    Useless gay lover!

    Coldly retracting his gaze, Ye Jiangbai huffed and shot a fierce look at Ye Liang.

    Ye Liang understood the challenge, but Beitang Miao was a seasoned warrior with superior stamina and strength. It was already a struggle for Ye Liang to parry his moves, let alone defeat him – an almost impossible task.

    After barely managing fifty moves, Ye Liang was forced to yield.

    "Bravo!" The officials cheered, and the emperor nodded slightly, addressing Ye Jiangbai. "How could your guest not pass the examination for the Imperial Guard? Perhaps there has been some misunderstanding."

    "I am not certain," Ye Jiangbai replied, bowing his head. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Zhao Changnian rush over to Beitang Miao, cloak in hand.

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