Emperor Xuanzong is pleasantly surprised by An Lushan's appearance, welcoming him eagerly. Lushan's rival, Chancellor of the Right Yang Guozhong, is peeved and immediately scolds Lushan for not kneeling in the presence of the Emperor. The general cleverly saves himself by answering that the barbarian custom is to pay respects to the mother before the father and proceeds to bow first to Yang Guifei, then to the Emperor. While this is a violation of court protocol, both Yang Guifei and the Emperor find this amusing, taking it as a warm joke. The Emperor bursts into laughter, and Guozhong's annoyance rises.
When the Emperor tells Lushan that he has missed the highlight of the festival, the ceremony declaring the winner of the contest, Lushan boldly asks "Am I not the highlight of tonight?" Guozhong does not hide his disdain, interjecting that "even if you did not come, spring would still arrive... the festival would go on as usual", to which Lushan retorts "Ha, Yang Guozhong... you play with flowers in Chang'an while I play with my life at the border! Without me, would you still be able to see the spring?" Before their argument escalates further, the eunuch Gao Lishi gently tries to defuse the tension, followed by the Emperor's boisterous agreement.
Whipping out his jiegu, a drum with which he is skilled at playing, the Emperor invites Lushan to perform his signature Sogdian Whirl dance to his beats. The general gladly obliges and with a troupe of female Turkic dancers and an orchestra in the background, the music commences. Outside the pavilion, Guozhong's team of delegates are left waiting into the night with one of Guozhong's servants. They feel left out of the party going on indoors, and their increasingly disappointed chief asks the servant if it is true that they would be rewarded with whatever they ask for. The servant responds that there is no need for impatience, as past delegates did indeed see their hearts' desires fulfilled, but he adds that it depends on Guozhong's capricious mood, which he predicts is all well and good that evening.
Back inside, Guozhong can barely contain his rage as he watches Lushan bask in the limelight with his excellent performance, all to a song glorifying his barbarian heritage. His delegates stroll over to Chenxiang Pavilion, a gazebo in the gardens where they had been instructed to continue waiting. But there was already a man resting there, a young man in a dark, hooded robe, twiddling with a blooded peony in hand. Asked who he was, the stranger dispassionately mutters "Here to claim lives".
Behind the scenes
In the English edition of Assassin's Creed: Dynasty, published by Tokyopop, there are translation errors throughout the chapter. The most significant are the following, though there are also minor translation errors apart from these.
- On Yang Guozhong's first appearance, he is indicated as "Chancellor of the Right, Yang Guozhong" but this is instead translated as "Prime Minister Yang Guozhong". While Guozhong is indeed prime minister (宰相), this is an imprecise translation since in this instance, the comic is presenting him by the name of his office (右相).
- When An Lushan tells Guozhong, "I... am a barbarian. Barbarians bow to the mother before they bow to the father!" barbarian (胡人, húrén) is mistranslated as "a man of the Hu clan". Hu (胡) does not refer to Lushan's clan but to him being of an ethnicity regarded as barbarian by the Chinese.
- As in the previous chapter, 花魁 (Mandarin: huākuí) is mistranslated as oiran, a class of courtesans in Japanese history, based on the Japanese reading of the term. It actually refers to the grand prize of the contest.
- When the Emperor tells Lushan, "You're a bit late. The grand flower prize has already been awarded", it is mistranslated as "You're late. The oiran has already emerged!" as though a star courtesan has made her appearance.
- When Guozhong's chief delegate comments, "It seems the elites are all celebrating Lord Yang's winning the flower crown", it is mistranslated as "It seems they are celebrating Master Yang's victory for the oiran...!" as though Yang has accomplished something for a courtesan.
- An Lushan's retort to Yang Guozhong, "You play with flowers in Chang'an while I play with my life at the border!" is translated as "While you're playing with flowers in Chang'an... I'm gambling with my life on the border!" Lushan intentionally utilizes parallelism and repetition as rhetorical devices to make his taunt more jarring. This is not reflected by changing playing to gambling, even though the overall meaning is the same.
- The conventional English name for An Lushan's dance is the Sogdian Whirl although its Chinese name is Dance of the Whirling Barbarian (胡旋舞). As before, the translators fail to translate hú (胡) as 'barbarian', instead treating it as though it were Lushan's clan name. The name they give for the dance is simply "Dance of the Hu".